210226 big life community health herosThe core of Big Life’s ethos is this: if conservation supports the people, then people will support conservation. This has never been truer in the face of a global pandemic.

Along with our partners, Big Life Foundation has been able to expand our existing Community Health Volunteer (CHV) program on Mbirikani Group into Eselengei and Rombo Group Ranches. The CHVs are trusted and respected members of their communities and their primary role is to go door-to-door providing healthcare education, as well as referrals to their local government facility. They also let everyone know when a backpack nurse is coming, where she or he will be located, and assist with organizing on the day of the visit. The backpack nurse provides maternal health services that include immunizations, de-worming, antenatal care, and family planning.           

Big Life has continued to support the local government health facilities with the provision of hand sanitizer and soap, as well as the PPE needed by the CHVs in their line of work. Unfortunately, government nurses and clinical officers went on strike on December 8, 2020, due to a lack of sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), insufficient pay for their increased risk, and the fact that the National Hospital Insurance Fund does not cover them for COVID-19 treatment.  

Despite the numerous obstacles, the work is getting done. In 2020, CHVs visited 22,553 households. Between household visits and Dialogue Days, 75,593 people were provided with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information, as well as COVID-19 prevention and containment information. Importantly, the CHVs are also able to advise couples on the best form of family planning for their individual needs. Because mobile clinics have been on hold since last March, due to the inability to safely gather in numbers, household visits by our CHVs have provided critical healthcare support at a time when there were no other options for care. 

We’re incredibly grateful for CHASE Africa, the Leila and Mickey Straus Family Foundation, and all of our supporters around the world that have fortified our ability to support the local Maasai community’s needs, while also protecting nature for the benefit of all.