Blog post written by Melavin Muthamaki Gitonga
My name is Melavin Muthamaki Gitonga. Muthamaki means king and Gitonga means rich. In a funny way, my name in English is rich king Melavin. I am a community health worker and also the School to Community project coordinator. I joined HopeCore in August 2016 after completing my bachelors in Population Health at Kenyatta University. It was a kind of homecoming as I had taken my internship at HopeCore a year earlier. It was a very happy moment in my life.
My orientation to HopeCore was easy since I was already conversant with most of the programs. I was, however, surprised by how big HopeCore had grown in size in only a year. The Public Health team was now a large department. Each day three teams go into the field for our maternal and child health and mobile clinic programs, I was assigned to join Team B, one of the three teams.
Each team visits a school, where they conduct a mobile clinic to treat all the sick students and teachers. A mother and child health clinic usually runs concurrently with the mobile clinic. It is a very successful program and through it we have been able to reach very many people in need. In team B, I met very hardworking team members. I was amazed by how they were able to combine work and fun. I also met Boscow who inspired me with his supreme leadership qualities at such an early age.
Outside of our fieldwork, I love reading and learning. At HopeCore we have a library of very good books. I have to admit with modern technology its becoming harder and harder to engross oneself in a book. To counter this, I now watch TedEx Videos and take online courses especially from Harvard. Every Tuesday we have a public health class to update our knowledge which in turn means better productivity in the field. Dr. KK Mugambi shares wisdom stories with us which have helped me grow personally and especially become a pro-active person.
In May, this year, I was called upon to showcase my abilities as the School to Community Coordinator (STC). In the STC program, we empower students who are health club members with information about good hygiene knowledge and practices. In doing so, we create “Junior community health workers’’ who pass the knowledge to their parents, friends, and community. I am each day impressed by the level of enthusiasm shown by health club members. It reminds me of my primary school years when I used to suffer stomach ailments all the time. Suffice it to say, that I never used to follow any of the health practices that I teach today. How I wish somebody had taught me back then and saved me from the pain that I used to go through.
During the holidays (when the schools are closed in April, August, and December) I join the teams as a community health worker. We visit markets to market our services as well as offer free blood pressure and diabetes tests. On other days during the holidays, we visit homes around Maara to offer health education and monitor if they are using the mosquito nets we distribute in the right way. This exercise involves filing papers and a lot of data entry work later.
Moving forward, I am looking to study more Public Health material so that people can finally stop joking that I should have studied computer science. It will also help me better in coming up with ideas to help improve the health of people in Maara.
I have high hopes for Village Hopecore and am looking forward to growing together with this great organization.