Our Growth! (Written by Joyce Wangoi)

Blog written by Joyce Wangoi, Public Health Coordinator

In every phase of development, growth is expected, and Hope Core’s Public Health Department has not been any different. Over the last few months, the Public Health Department has experienced increased development both in staffing and programming. Initially, in 2009, our programs consisted of our senior nurse and a community health worker who often accompanied our Microenterprise Department to attend to loan clients during loan collection visits and to offer health services. Over the past 6 years, our programs have since expanded from mobile clinics to other engaging and exciting programs.

Human Resource Developments

The Public Health Department has grown significantly over the last six months, from a staff comprised of 8 to now having 14 members. This means that more people are reached with our services, coinciding with our organization’s mission of transforming lives through health education and promotion.

Programmatic Developments & New Activities

MCH workshop

With pilots in November and December 2014 this program launched in March 2015. Here, mothers from local communities are invited to nearby community schools to come for health education and clinical services. The services include, but are not limited to, health education for mothers, clinical services, growth monitoring for their children, and family planning services to mothers. So far we have conducted clinics in 48 schools, some multiple times, and we hope to expand to include all the schools in the sub-county in 2016.

MCH pic
A CHW conducts growth monitoring on a small child at an MCH clinic

Amplify and Human-Centered design

New ideas are welcomed to try out in different areas to make it as exciting, engaging and as beneficial as possible to the mothers and the community members at large. We have tried several prototypes and this has motivated the staff since there ideas are tried out without necessarily having them work out positively but making everyone feel part of the team.

Health hotline

This idea is another innovative service that we have recently initiated. After realizing that many within our community need information and consultation services, and recognizing that some households are located in very rural and hard-to-reach locations, the health hotline service was developed. Our able clinical team can now reach homes for health advice and consultation 24/7. Following its initiation, the team has been receiving many calls for assistance on various medical issues and follow-up visits and/or appointments, especially from mothers.

Market outreach events

This is another outreach activity that was recently started, and we plan to continue to expand this outreach program. At the local Chogoria town market, we set up a table to advertise our services, as well as set up a separate tent for health services. These events very successful; the number of people that were reached at the market outreach with our services was much higher than what we expected. People came out in large numbers for HIV testing, blood glucose testing and blood pressure testing.

HopeCore holds an outreach event in Chogoria Market

Our Managing Director refers to the team as ‘the life savers’, and the Public Health Department will continue to focus on our goal of the reduction of disease burden through health education and through curative health services.

As our Department continues to expand and grow, we are more excited than ever to see what the future holds and the positive change it will bring to our community. Stay tuned!

Celina Igoki’s Success Story

Blog written by Alice Kaimenyi

Celina Igoki is 63 years old and a member of Elshadai 2 Self Help Group. She is a widow and she takes care of her six grandchildren. She currently lives in Rwanderi, a small village in Maara District, Chogoria location, Kenya.


Celina faced many adversities during her younger years which made it impossible for her to continue with her education. Although she had big dreams that she wanted to fulfill, she ultimately had to drop out of class four. Celina was left with a small piece of land after her husband passed away, so she opted to become a small-scale banana farmer. Unfortunately, she was not successful in this business, as her monthly earnings from banana selling was only Kshs 2000 ($USD 20) per month. Often, after paying her bills, she was left with nothing in her pockets. She was unable to pay for her grandchildren’s school fees and she struggled to provide them with well-balanced meals on a daily basis. Celina desperately desired to provide her grandchildren with better housing, electricity and running water, but her financial hardship stood in the way.           

In 2012, Celina became a member of Elshadai 2 and she engaged in table banking with the other group members. The little that she received during the table banking exercise provided her with hope that the best was yet to come. In October 2012, HopeCore funded her group with normal loans and she received Kshs 30,000 ($USD 300). After receiving this loan, she decided to leave banana farming and invested her money in dairy farming. Celina started selling milk to her community and the profit from her new business greatly improved her family’s livelihood. Her monthly income increased by 550%, from Kshs 2000 (USD $20) to Kshs 13,000 (USD $130).

Celina's mud house before receiving a loan from HopeCore.
Celina’s mud house before receiving a loan from HopeCore.

With this substantial increase in her income, Celina was able to send her six grandchildren to school, buy them better clothing and provide them with three balanced meals per day. After saving her profit for three months, she re-invested in her banana farming business and she benefited greatly from diversifying her income. Her monthly income increased by 130%, from Kshs 13,000 (USD $130) to Kshs 30,000 (USD $300). With this tremendous increase in her monthly income, she decided to invest in her household. She built a permanent house out of stone and installed electricity and piped water for irrigation.

During the one-week business training that is hosted by HopeCore’s Micro-Enterprise Department, she gained valuable knowledge and skills, such as how to write a proper business plan and effective methods of record-keeping. She also received many health tips, including, proper family planning methods, the importance of good hygiene, malaria prevention, and how to prevent HIV/AIDs. With the health education that she received, she now treats her drinking water and her family sleeps under bed nets. Celina thanks HopeCore for believing in her and investing in her dream. Her loan repayment is 100%.

After receiving a 2nd loan from HopeCore, Celina was able to build a stone house and has installed water and electricity.
After receiving a 2nd loan from HopeCore, Celina was able to build a stone house and has installed water and electricity.

Frankline Muriuki’s Success Story

Written by Jillo Gubal, Alice Kaimenyi, and Kabi Muhu

Frankline Muriuki is 53 years old and the secretary of Mwithanga Self Help Group (SHG). He is married to Kagwiria and together they take care of their three children. The family currently lives in Gitombani, a small village in Maara District, Chogoria.

Frankline Muriuki was able to successfully expand and diversify his business with a small business loan from HopeCore
Frankline Muriuki was able to successfully expand and diversify his business with a small business loan from HopeCore
Frankline’s family faced significant financial hardships during his younger years. His parents could not afford his school fees so he had to drop out of school at a young age. Frankline still had to earn a living so he used his small piece of land to practice subsistence dairy cow farming. On average, he sold six liters of milk per day but this only equated to a monthly income of Kshs 6000 (USD 60). Frankline desired to install piped water and electricity in his home but unfortunately, his meager earnings from dairy farming were insufficient. The vicious cycle of poverty trickled down into his own household as his income was not enough to support his family and pay for his children’s school fees on a monthly basis.
In 2008, Frankline joined Mwithanga SHG in an attempt to lift his family out of poverty. The group engaged in table banking and merry-go-rounds, a monthly savings and disbursement program, which proved to be very beneficial to them all. In 2009, HopeCore funded his group with a normal loan and he received an individual loan amount of Kshs 30,000 (USD 300). After receiving the loan, Frankline decided to leave dairy farming and invested his money in pig rearing, which had always been a passion of his. He also knew that pork was in high demand in his area.
After receiving his individual loan amount, Frankline was able to pursue his passion for pig rearing
After receiving his individual loan amount, Frankline was able to pursue his passion for pig rearing

After six months of pig rearing, he sold his 9 pigs to Farmer’s Choice and nearby butcheries. His transition to pig rearing proved to be a very lucrative business decision, as his monthly income increased by 400% from Kshs 6000 (USD 60) to Kshs 30,000 (USD 300). After a few months of saving his new profit, he was financial able to purchase more pigs and expand his business. Additionally, he was able to pay his children’s secondary school and university tuition fees on time.
In 2013, HopeCore funded his group with a second normal loan and he received an additional individual loan amount of Kshs 30,000 (USD 300). With the profit from his pig rearing business and the second loan amount, he decided to diversify his income by building a greenhouse to grow and sell agricultural produce. He currently supplies tomatoes to local supermarkets and market centers. His greenhouse project has also proven to be lucrative and successful as his new monthly income has increased by 67% from Kshs 30,000 (USD 300) to Kshs 50,000 (USD 500).
Frankline outside his greenhouse that he was able to finance from his pig rearing business
Frankline outside his greenhouse that he was able to finance from his pig rearing business

Frankline attributes his success to the help that he received from HopeCore. During the one-week business training program that HopeCore’s Micro-Enterprise Department hosts, he gained valuable knowledge and skills including, how to write a proper business plan, effective methods of record-keeping, animal rearing techniques and best agricultural practices. He also received many health tips including proper family planning, the importance of good hygiene, malaria prevention, and how to prevent HIV/AIDs. Frankline thanks HopeCore for believing in him and investing in his dream. His loan repayment stood at 100%.

My Internship with HopeCore (by Melavin Muthamaki, Community Health Worker)

Melavin Muthamaki, our intern, reflects on his experiences here at HopeCore

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Hello there! My name is Melavin Muthamaki. I’m a third year student at Kenyatta University, and I’m undertaking a BSc in Population Health. I have been greatly honored to be part of Village HopeCore International, where I spent three months doing my internship. I first heard of the organization from my friends who frequented the HopeCore Youth Centre. After accompanying them to the Centre, I became a regular and fell in love with the organization. It was because of this that when the time to start my internship came, I had only one organization in mind: Village HopeCore International.

My first day at the organization was a day of discovery. My idea of HopeCore was quickly transformed from just a Youth Centre to a far-flung organization with several departments. Some of these include:

1.The Public Health Department, which deals in projects such as the mobile clinics in schools, malaria prevention and mosquito nets distribution, distribution of clean water tanks and hand washing station tanks, and youth-peer providers, who distribute contraceptives and offer counseling.

2. The Micro-enterprise Department, which addresses poverty eradication through provision of loans and financial education.

3. The Administrative Team

I was deeply humbled by the warm welcome I received. I immediately felt that I was a part of the HopeCore family. Dr. Kajira Mugambi, the organization’s founder, usually says, “ A stranger is a friend you have not yet met’’. I have felt those words come to life during my stay at Hopecore.

I spent the first month (May) getting oriented to different HopeCore activities. I particularly enjoyed riding with Dave on the motorbike to check the status of the WASH tanks. This is done to ensure the tanks are well maintained and used for the purpose intended. We also checked that soap was always placed at the hand washing stations. In the event that the school ran out of WaterGuard, we supplied them with more. When I was not touring with Dave, I attended classes taught by Lenah and the other Community Health Workers to learn how to present lessons to pupils and parents, respectively. I also took part in the net distribution exercises whereby you give mosquito nets to ECD (Early Childhood Development) children. Their parents receive the nets after they are adequately equipped with knowledge on the purpose of the nets and how to use them.

In the months of June and July, I participated in health education whereby I taught pupils from different schools on matters pertaining to Malaria and Cholera causes and prevention. I did this with help from Armstrong who has been so helpful to me throughout the process. I also did growth monitoring which I enjoyed so much. I particularly enjoyed listening to Victoria as she taught parents about family planning.

Generally, I gained the knowledge, skills, and courage to do what I previously thought I couldn’t. The many visits to various schools where I taught those angelic kids will never be forgotten. I had no idea that I could learn from kids. Some always had me laughing with their jokes and others challenged me with various questions. I also enjoyed the MCH (Mother and Child Health) clinics. I also improved my social skills a lot. I learned how to communicate with different people, how to fit in the society, and how to cope with various attitudes from different people.

I had many challenges as well. For example, one time the Public Health team’s Land Cruiser became stuck in a puddle of mud and I had to assist in pulling it out. As the driver struggled to do the same, water from the puddle splashed on me. You can imagine how I looked, so dirty and disorderly on my way home that day.

Now that I’m almost done with my internship, I am going to miss the Village HopeCore family a lot. I will also miss seeing the happy faces of children or parents after helping them out. I really never want to leave, but I have my studies to complete and therefore I must go. I’ll surely miss the Public Health team, especially the stories and laughter shared each and every single day. I hope to see them all again someday!!

HopeCore’s health program was selected for funding and design support!

Village HopeCore International (HopeCore) is pleased to announce it has been selected by Amplify, through Open IDEO, as one of the organizations to receive funding and design support for its Maternal and Under-5 Health and Education Clinics.

The maternal and child wellness program has grown from 15 years of experience in villages along the slopes of Mt. Kenya.  HopeCore recognized a gap in their health programming and that was that they were not accessing mothers or children under 5 years old. HopeCore continually receives awards from the Sub-County Government recognizing their contribution to the school system and the health of the local children.  Now the international community is supporting and recognizing these unique efforts.

HopeCore launched a health program in May 2015 aimed at improving the health of communities along the slopes of Mt. Kenya.   The program focuses on four modalities of maternal and child health: educate, prevent, treat, and advise. It has begun with 40 primary schools with the hope to expand to all 133 primary schools in the Maara Sub-County of Kenya.  A health hotline will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to any community members with health-related questions or concerns as well as a program to support the most vulnerable families, including pregnant women.

In November 2014 HopeCore accepted an online challenge conducted by Amplify and IDEO.org, through OpenIDEO (openideo.com) aimed at generating creative, innovative, and collaborative solutions to the world’s problems. The challenge was, “How might parents in low-income communities ensure children thrive in their first five years?”  There were 441 ideas submitted to this challenge.  Over the next 2 months, HopeCore staff worked collaboratively with experts from around the world to respond to questions and refine their ideas.

Out of all the participants, only 31 ideas were chosen for greater refinement, including HopeCore.  In January, HopeCore was one of 10 “Top Ideas”.  By then HopeCore was able to show results being seen through pilot programs and interviews with community members.  Through this process, anyone in the world was able to write comments and questions to refine or clarify the idea.

Working with an international audience, HopeCore was able to make the program clearer and potentially more effective.  This all paid off as in May 2015, HopeCore was chosen as one of five ideas to receive design support and one of only three ideas to receive funding for an idea.

This major international recognition will provide HopeCore with design and funding support in addition to bringing them onto the international scene of global health.  One member of HopeCore staff will travel to San Francisco in July 2015 for a design bootcamp aimed at developing strategy and learning new approaches to problem definition and problem solving.  This bootcamp will assist HopeCore in becoming more effective in developing and implementing programs that improve the lives of many communities in Kenya.

Another part of the IDEO.org award is a grant that will support the program.  This grant will allow HopeCore to fully implement the program and provide life-saving education and treatment to mothers and their children under 5 years old.

“This is a great day for us as it marks the moment that our programs have entered the international health and development arena and have been selected by an international jury to be the very best of the crop,” said Dr. Phil Rasori, Village HopeCore International Medical Director and Board Member. “Our organization that started with twelve women, two men, and five thousand dollars is now beginning to affect how health and development is conducted far beyond the Chogoria area.”

By introducing the mother and child wellness program as part of their health program, HopeCore is working toward prevention from an earlier age so parents will have fewer health concerns and expenses related to their children, thus allowing them to focus on economic productivity.  This new program will affect 22,000 mothers and their children, building on the 45,000 children already handled through other health programs.  With the support of IDEO.org, this project seeks to grow to impact 100,000 individuals in 516 villages.

Celebrating 15 years of public health and microenterprise service to communities in rural Kenya