MMMs first went to Kenya to respond to the famine in the Turkana Desert in 1962. As well as our work on the ground, some Sisters literally took to the air and trained as pilots to transport personnel and supplies to mission stations many miles apart. Afterwards we became involved in development work, women’s empowerment and basic health care. While there have been great improvements in desert towns like Lodwar, Kenya still experiences famine quite frequently.
Our main work in Kenya today is mainly in community-based healthcare, with a strong emphasis on women’s development and services for people affected by HIV/AIDS.
In Eldoret in the Rift Valley Province, St. Mary’s Medical Centre offers health care services and has a comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme. While surveys suggest a decrease in HIV prevalence in the area, there are many orphans and other vulnerable children (OVCs) without proper care or access to education. A social department caters for OVCs and caregivers. Health workers are trained about preventive health and good nutrition, especially for children, and about the importance of clean water, sanitation and environmental issues. The catchment area includes three slums and most people are poor. Many are petty traders.
Mukuru Health Centre is located in Mukuru kwa Njenga, an informal settlement in Nairobi, not far from the international airport. It provides basic health care in a huge slum area with well over 600,000 people. Many live there because it is near the industries. There is severe overcrowding, and housing is poor with little ventilation. Frequent floods from blocked drains affect housing and bring disease; solid waste is dumped directly into the streets and other open spaces. There are no roads, proper garbage collection, or solid waste disposal facilities. Fires break out easily because of the materials used to construct simple homes. The area often floods because of poor drainage.
Services include basic diagnosis and treatment; maternal and child health; nutrition education and support for malnourished children; cervical cancer screening; care for people living with HIV/AIDS, social services; TB management; home-based care; assistance for children living with disabilities; and a school health programme. Community health volunteers have helped with TB screening and raising awareness about gender-based violence and human trafficking.
Sister Mary O’Malley is engaged full time in dealing with the problem of human trafficking. Kenya is a source country from which vulnerable women, men and children are taken. It is also a country of transit for those captured elsewhere and a destination country for the services of trafficked persons.
Also in Nairobi is our administrative house at Westlands. In addition it provides hospitality to missionaries travelling to or from other parts of East Africa. A formation house for women preparing for life as MMMs or upgrading their qualifications is located in Riara. Based at Westlands, Sister Doctor Martine Makanga is a consultant paediatric surgeon at Mater Misericordiae Hospital. She has clinical and training duties and has a special interest in cleft lip and palate repair. She participates in free clinics in Kenya and the Republic of the Congo.
MMMs in Kenya are involved in:
- HIV/AIDS programmes
- Anti-trafficking awareness-raising
- Women's development
- Training medical personnel
- Cleft lip and palate repair
- Vocation promotion and formation
- House of Studies in Kenya
- When did we see you hungry?
- Kenya in recovery after political crisis
- Survivors of ethnic violence Kenya
- Youth provide hope in Nairobi slum
- Saint Mary's Kapsoya, Kenya
- Working for human wholeness