After many years of service to the people of Hewani Village in Turkana Central Community Health Worker Josephine Akuwom called it a day and her son 24-year-old Charles Lekea stepped into her gigantious shoes to serve the people of their community.
“Having seen my mother at work and occasionally helping her, taking up after my mother as a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) came as second nature and having been at it for the last 3 years I do not regret my decision. “ He added “Our community’s challenges needed new energy and thinking and we are happy to pick up and build on the successes of the previous generation.”
From watching his mother, Charles has seen the service metermorphosize from what was addressing local ailments to now dealing with a global pandemic. He notes that while we still deal with the challenges of our community, COVID-19 interventions have been elevated and engrained to be part of our daily conversation.
‘Given the challenges my community has in accessing water and basic needs, COVID-19 presented new circumstances my community had to deal with. Since then I have been involved in the distribution of hygiene equipment in Kanamkemer location in Turkana central as part of the Practical Action COVID-19 response initiative.
His work though is not without challenges, “Before COVID-19, we would call for community meetings to educate people on hand washing, now we have to go door to door, which can be very cumbersome due to long distances,” Charles shares this as one of the challenges the pandemic has posed to their daily work.
Further, the nomadic nature of the Turkana community means they are constantly on the move making enforcement of the COVID-19 interventions harder. The biggest challenge though is access to running water. Charles is however grateful to Practical Action and its partners for availing hand washing stations and water tanks in much needed public areas. These are ensuring accelerated hand hygiene to the communities in Turkana County and availability of domestic water to vulnerable households.
To this effect, Charles and other CHVs have been distributing water storage containers and soap to households in Kanamkemer. They are also educating people on Hygiene and Behavior Change activities towards mitigating the spread of Covid-19.
Charles has also received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), that has enabled his outreach work to their communities is safe. His efforts and that of other CHV’s are now bearing fruit; more people are now aware of the pandemic and adhering to the set interventions like hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.
Practical Action is one of NBCC partners in WASH work stream, playing a big role in reaching the communities the remote areas, extending support for vulnerable communities in Turkana.