March 26th, 2018
In the last 13 years that Dorcus Indalo has been working with Amref Health Africa in Kenya, she has gone from supporting HIV and AIDS project in one of Africa’s largest urban slums, to working with Maasai and Kamba communities to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health in Kajiado and Kitui counties. Today, she rubs shoulders with legislators and policy makers at the County and National level to advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
With so many years of experience, and such a variety of work, it’s no wonder that Dorcus has three moments that she holds close to her heart.
Her first precious memory is from her time working at the Kibera Health Centre in Nairobi. She introduced The Hero Book – an activity for children living with HIV. Each Hero Book is a collection of drawings that capture what hero means to the child, who he is now and what he wants to be when he grows up, her outlook on HIV and AIDS, how she felt when she learned she was HIV positive, his circle of support and so much more.
“Walking with children through this therapy was so touching as children would talk about death, taking of drugs, what they want to be and who they admire in life,” says Dorcus. “A sensitive moment filled with emotions but full of life, ecstasy and hope at the same time.’’
Dorcus also remembers working with the Amref Health Africa outreach program to provide medical services during post-election violence in Kenya in 2007/2008.
“Working with women living with HIV who were violated sexually and their property destroyed was a very challenging moment. Providing psychosocial support for their psychological and emotional wellbeing brought about a lot of issues that needed addressing over time and healing.”
Another memory she cherishes is the creation of the community Wheelbarrow Ambulance in Kibera – a real innovation. The idea came about after visiting a bedridden patient who was unable to get to the health facility. The Wheelbarrow ambulance is cushioned, has a siren and has a handle so patients can sit and sleep comfortably.
Community Health Workers use the Wheelbarrow Ambulance to transport patients to and from the health centre. It has been particularly helpful for mothers about to give birth.
Now, as the Project Manager for the Kenya Chapter of the Health System Advocacy Partnership, Dorcus is focusing on policy and advocacy, a field that has enabled her to contribute to Amref Health Africa’s visibility and positioning at the legislative level.
“Working closely with legislators, judiciary and civil society organisations has enabled me to realise that partnerships that are well-focused bring about effective change that will last a lifetime,” she says. “And as a Philosophy student studying social transformation in governance and advocacy, I am interested in being part of political and administrative process that address the socio-economic status and protects its citizens’ interest through legislation.”
Dorcus sees challenges ahead for Amref Health Africa and its work.
“Civil Society Organizations are facing additional pressures: barriers to registration, restrictions on activities by some funders, and an approach to health development that is becoming more country-specific rather than Africa-wide.”
But, Dorcus isn’t one to be daunted by challenges. In her eyes, they are just part of the work of creating lasting health change.