On the eve of Saturday 8th February 2020, a group of Mount Kenya University (MKU) Young Catholic Students (YSC) set off for a visit to Shades Children’s Home in Kiganjo, Thika West Sub-County. This was part of their community outreach program aimed at giving back to the communities. As a Champion with Ryculture YouTH Voices, it was a double mission for me as this was my first assignment as well as a vocation to make a difference in the society.
My objectives as Ryculture YouTH Voices Champion was to;
- Enlighten the children, their caregivers and the communities around on Non-communicable diseases especially Asthma and Diabetes.
- Assess the extent to which these issues are attended to and empower them to lead healthy lives & seek care when necessary.
A selfie with Anne, the Home manager
In my discussions with the children and the caregivers (especially the manager, Madam Ann) it was evident that information about such conditions is not as available and there is need for sensitization. Of importance was the fact that a majority do not know of the danger signs of these conditions and may not seek care when faced with a crisis. Through the discussions, she was excited about the work we are doing as young people and took me for a stroll around the facility. However limited they are by resources, the hygiene levels and care given to raise the children was commendable.
During the training session, I emphasized on;
- Need for healthy living which covers avoiding refined foods and sugary diets, reducing alcohol intake and exercising regularly to improve on glucose utilization in the body.
- Signs and symptoms of the diseases i.e. for asthma main being breathlessness associated with exposure to specific triggers and for diabetes (exhaustion, increased urination, increased appetite and undying thirst among others).
- Routine medical check-up at the different health centers to monitor their health status at any one point in time.
- Need to have a structured physical fitness program at the center which would serve as a reinforcement for regular exercising.
These were explained to the children, the center staff and community members from Kiganjo Primary School.
Children at the home pose for a picture at Kganjo Primary School field after a football game with some of the YCS Members
The reception was amazing and the willingness to try new approaches to ensure they are healthy as a community. The responses and the level of participation through the sessions was encouraging.
As the old adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure” and it’s our responsibility encourage this through education, supportive programs and follow up to ensure we have a healthy community.
Author: Arnold Githui; Ryculture YouTH Voices Champion