Dorine is a Community Health Volunteer trained by Amref Health Africa. She lives in Kibera, Nairobi – the largest urban slum in Africa.
Kibira is made up of 250,000 people. Conditions are tough and unemployment is high.
It is Dorine’s job to visit her neighbours, offering support and advice to expectant mothers
and women with children to ensure they are healthy. Dorine is responsible for over
100 households in the slum, advising on ante-natal care visits, ensuring mother and
baby records are kept up-to-date, offering assistance with breastfeeding, immunisations,
nutrition and family planning.
Dorine is a member of a Community Unit called Soweto, which is made up of
120 Community Healthcare Volunteers who, together, look after the people of Kibera.
To perform her work effectively, Dorine has been trained on LEAP – an innovative mobile
phone-based platform which uses regular updates and peer-to-peer communication to
strengthen the skills of health workers. Dorine’s smartphone is now a key factor to her
work as a Community Healthcare Volunteer.
“LEAP has really increased my confidence”, she says. “When I visit a household to advise a
neighbour, I know that I have all the health content right there with me in case I need to
check anything. I know I am giving the correct information at all times.”
Most Community Health Volunteers live a hand-to-mouth existence in Kibera. The mobile
technology gives people like Dorine flexibility. They can now fit study into their routines,
around work, and SMS alerts mean that visits run much more smoothly. Being able to
access material through the mobile platform at home is also much safer than walking
the streets after dark, where crime and the risk of attacks are high.
LEAP has also encouraged a strong sense of group identity and responsibility. Many
of the volunteers are more engaged in their work because they feel invested in it.
Features such as a ‘group chat’ are popular for arranging visits, Community Action Days
and circulating test results. A ‘buddy system’ has evolved between older and younger
Community Healthcare Volunteers, ensuring that the less tech-savvy Community
Health Volunteers aren’t left behind.