Kisii, Kenya

The hums of motorbikes and brays of grazing cows pervade the bustling community of Kisii, a town of over 100,000 nestled in the hilly highlands of western Kenya. For the next six weeks, I will be working as a project intern with the Kisii Konya Oroiboro Project (KIKOP)—a community led organization that aims to address maternal and child mortality through facilitating peer-to-peer Care Groups of mothers, home visits to monitor the wellbeing of mothers and their children, youth education programming, and strengthening of the existing healthcare system to support maternal, child, and reproductive health. As I transition to life seven hours ahead of North Carolina, I’ve noticed that KIKOP has been going through a few transitions of its own.

Outside of the KIKOP office. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is a primary partner of KIKOP.

Last year, KIKOP shifted from manual data collection to the use of a new digital data system called Meaningful. Using the Meaningful app on their tablets, Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) collect information during home visits with women who are pregnant or have recently given birth in the Kisii County catchments of Matongo, Iranda, and Nyagoto. At these home visits, CHVs are responsible for checking in with the wellbeing and health education of mothers to promote maternal and infant health. One of my primary tasks this summer will be to support the KIKOP team in the shift to using Meaningful by hearing the perspectives of CHVs who are using the new system and compiling the data they collect to create a visualization dashboard for maternal and child health indicators.

Ground-floor game area within the KIKOP office.
Third-floor classroom within the KIKOP office.







A few days before I arrived, another major change for KIKOP came when the team relocated from a one-room building within the Kisii Teaching & Referral Hospital’s medical complex to a three-story building minutes from the Iranda catchment. This new office includes a ground-floor game room where teens from the surrounding area can relax and enjoy playing pool or watching TV before they attend lessons on topics such as STI prevention, mental health, sexual and gender-based violence, and teen pregnancy. (The teens wait outside the office gate each morning excited to play pool – they’re very passionate about the game, and even study advanced pool moves on their phones in their down time). The offices upstairs include a meeting room for the KIKOP Board, a classroom for the local youths, and physical records spanning back to when KIKOP began.

View from within the KIKOP office.

The work that KIKOP is doing has created a monumental shift in the quality of care that mothers and children receive in Kisii County; over the past several years, KIKOP has reached thousands of pregnant women and families in Matongo, Iranda and Nyagoto. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be learning from the KIKOP team and the community in Kisii, and I hope to contribute my public health knowledge to support this wonderful group of people. I’m looking forward to the next few weeks!