We want to support the positive change we want to see in the world. With this in mind we have started to invest in a number of community programmes, working with local communities, to support the poorest and most vulnerable people to make sustainable changes that will ultimately improve their quality of life.
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Since 2018 MannionDaniels has been supporting a community health volunteer project in the county of Kakamega in western Kenya. The parasitic flea Tunga penetrans causes serious suffering and disability in this area. Once the microscopic female flea is embedded in human skin- usually the foot to begin with – it attaches to a blood vessel and expands hugely before shedding hundreds of eggs. This parasitic process causes intense pain and itching and necrosis of flesh. The secondary dangers are tetanus, gangrene, anaemia, impaired immunity, mental health issues, loss of employment and social stigma.
On a visit to Kakamega in 2018 we met a team of dedicated local community workers, calling themselves the Community Health Initiative Group who were treating jiggers in the area of Virhembe, a sub district of Kakamega. Impressed by their dedication, well-kept records and methodical work and aware that their efforts were hampered by lack of funds, we undertook to support them on a regular basis.
On a recent visit by Ruth Mannion and Mercy Nyaga the local school headmaster confirmed the benefits to the children. “We had 50 children with jiggers a few months ago and now, as you see, there is only 12 still receiving treatment”. The headmaster also reported that he perceived much better performance of children once they had been cleared of Jiggers. The team conducts household follow up and has identified several severe cases where children and adults are highly infested with Jiggers and this outreach work is now set to be expanded in the new phase of the project.
During routine Jiggers treatment visits to Lugango school in 2020, the CHIG team noticed several children who as well as suffering from jiggers seemed to be struggling with childhood basic needs. These observations were supported by the headmaster who explained that several children had no guarantee of a meal each day and could not afford the small sum required for school lunches. These children came to school without having had breakfast and had no certainty of a meal before bed. Some children had no secure place to sleep at night and climbed in through the school windows to sleep on their classroom floor. Poverty, illness, and broken families are the source of much distress to many children in the area. CHIG’s carefully kept records are sometimes an insight into household situations, for example one household comprised of a 90-year-old and thirteen children ranging from 4-15 years old.
After consultations with the head of the school who identified the ten most vulnerable children, MannionDaniels decided to support these children with school lunches, school uniforms, exam fees and any other school expenses that occurred throughout primary school. This programme was taken on by the CHIG team on top of their usual Jiggers work, and the first phase started in February 2020.
Due to the school closures as a result of COVID-19 we have now decided to refocus the support to providing food and supplies to the households of the vulnerable children. We will reassess the situation in April 2021 when hopefully all the children will be back at school.
In 2020, the CHIG team started a new tree nursery project, growing seedlings from seeds collected from areas around the Kakamega Forest Reserve, with permission from the local authorities.
Job Ilondana, member of CHIG and local botanist, is working with Ruth Mannion on the design of this new initiative that will include engagement with local communities and teaching school children about the importance of the forest and its conservation.
The Menstrual Cup Coalition (MCC) supports the safe use of affordable menstrual cups globally, by sharing knowledge and good practice of implementation and research. MannionDaniels is very proud to be a member of the MCC, and also provide the coalition with pro-bono support to promote their work.
In 2017, 1.9 billion women – around 26% of the population – were of menstruating age, spending an average of 65 days a year experiencing menstrual blood flow. Every single one of these individuals will face some sort of stigma or taboo around their period at some point in their lives. For others, the day-to-day reality of having a period can stop them going to school, work or simply leaving the house.
1.29 billion menstruating people are in developing countries where access to clean water, toilets, menstrual health education, and menstrual products are likely to be limited. Such situations can reinforce social stigma around menstruation, as well as pose extra health risks.
We believe that menstrual health is integral to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Not only does such mainstreaming into other programmes help lower stigma but, when better understood, menstruation can also be used as key tool for helping to identify sexual and reproductive health disorders, such as endometriosis.
There are often limited options for sanitary products. Menstrual cups have the potential to improve the comfort and dignity for girls and women especially those living in areas with limited water supply and privacy opportunities. When women and girls have menstrual cups freely available to use it improves their confidence and their use of contraception. Having a way to manage their periods also means girls attend school more regularly or stay in education longer providing them with a better education. The cups allow greater participation in sport and physical activities and reduce environmentally damaging waste.
The Menstrual Cup Coalition has over 30 member organisations who share experience and knowledge, to expand the impact and improve the quality of their work. MannionDaniels is partnering with the Menstrual Cup Coalition to support activities taking place in 2020 and 2021. More specifically, we are providing ‘help desk’ facilities for the Menstrual Cup Coalition and organising the annual Menstrual Cup Summit.
Further aspects of MannionDaniels’ pro-bon support to the Menstrual Cup Coalition is to promote the work of this voluntary online to a wider and diverse audience.
With the correct information, the demand for menstrual cups is high, but the reality is that they are often not accessible due to lack of trainers and affordable cups. We know that when good information and education is provided it supports uptake. This is why we want to encourage the use of menstrual cups and why MannionDaniels is proud to be a member of the Menstrual Cup Coalition.