“Serving my community is the most fulfilling work I have done so far, though it comes with its own challenges, especially due to a shortage of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in my area,” says Euridice, a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) working in Gatua Community Health Unit (CHU), Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya.
Every month, Euridice visits about 20 households – offering among others, prenatal and postnatal advice to mothers, nutritional education, particularly for children under five and much needed information on hygiene and sanitation – in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without this intervention, these households approximately 600+ people would likely not have access to health services.
Besides health education on sanitation and maternal and child health promotion, Euridice, who is particularly passionate about nutrition, has set up a food workshop in her CHU in partnership with fellow CHVs. Here, they process, package and sell indigenous foods to the community at an affordable price. She also carries the food with her during her visits and often gives it to any malnourished child she encounters in the course of her work.
The government of Tharaka Nithi County has prioritized community health and consistently provides the monthly stipend to all the 1,265 CHVs. As such, Euridice receives a monthly stipend of KES 3000 (30 USDs) and has acquired training as well as teaching aids that she uses during her home visits.
— Euridice Gatwiri, a CHV in Gatua Community Health Unit (CHU), Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya
Serving my community is the most fulfilling work I have done so far, though it comes with its own challenges
Some of the challenges encountered by Euridice and other CHVs in the course of their work include walking long distances in tough terrains to reach some households, resistance and hostility from some families, and lack of performance-based incentives, which demotivates them from carrying out services such as TB and HIV/AIDS defaulter tracing.
Her parting shot: “I love my work and I will keep doing my best for the community, as I have seen a lot of change as a result of CHVs’ work–people are now healthier and happier.” Euridice is among over 80,000 CHVs across the country, against a total need of 100,000+ CHVs, and though there remains a shortage in numbers, their efforts are saving lives