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Ellen Cole walking through Kenyan marketplace

Ellen Cole leads a PATH Journeys trip to Kenya.

PATH Journeys travelers share experiences from Kenya

In September 2009, Ellen Cole, our director of outreach, led a group of travelers on a ten-day tour of our work in Kenya. We asked her to share their experiences and photos.

Learning

Day 6—I am learning a ton about our work in Kenya right alongside the other travelers—especially about the subtleties of this intervention versus that one and about what PATH Journeys can mean to our supporters. We’ve had really lively discussions about all of our experiences. Lots of food for thought as we continue to develop the program.

Learn more about our work in Kenya and other countries in Africa.

Mothers-in-law: a universal challenge

Day 5, Butere/Mumia—We visited a “mothers to mothers” support group that PATH helped start. Some of the women are living with HIV, and all of them are benefitting from learning that exclusive breastfeeding will improve their babies’ chances of survival and general health.

Woman listening intently with her toddler on her lap

Some mothers in this support group walk one to two hours each way to participate.

They greeted us with songs and dances and then performed one of their role plays where the mother-in-law makes things hard for the daughter-in-law. I told them this is a global issue and that my daughters-in-law suffer from my bossy interference just as they do. They thought that was pretty funny.

The group meets under a huge tree. Some of the women walk (carrying their babies) for one to two hours to get there (not that the driving’s a picnic, I can tell you) and one to two hours back home. That’s how important the group is to them.

They were inspiring. It was heartening to see how healthy they and their kids looked, given their very difficult living situations—typically a mud hut or thatch roof (tin if you’re doing well) with no latrine and no water or power, of course. But they smile and laugh with each other, and they seemed to find us very entertaining.

See more images in our Flickr photo set.

Magnet theater for social change

Day 4, Luanda, afternoon—The APHIA Project uses theater to advocate for HIV prevention and behavior change. We watched as young local actors performed in the marketplace, attracting shoppers and shop owners in a nonthreatening setting, helping them reconsider social norms that may contribute to HIV.

These darling toddlers were in the marketplace, too.

Two toddler girls in bright orange dresses

Toddlers at the market.

Read more about lively, interactive magnet theater.

From prisoners to peer educators

Day 4, Kakamega, morning—Visited a children’s detention center. It’s for boys only—for petty crimes like stealing food. PATH has a life skills and HIV prevention program in the center, training kids to be peer educators. We’re hoping to talk to a boy who, upon release, became a leader in his local high school.

Group of boys in bright blue sweaters, sitting on the grass

Boys at a Kakamega detention center.

The Health Committee

Day 3, Kakamega, afternoon—Eshim Village is home to 70 households, 800 inhabitants. At the meeting of the Health Committee, one woman said that it was because of the formation of the committee that she is no longer in pain all of the time. She was giving birth every year and now understands that birth spacing enables a much healthier lifestyle.

Three women sitting in chairs outdoors

Eshim Village Health Committee meeting.

Korogocho slum

Women waiting on a clinic bench with their young children

Women and children wait for care at a clinic in Korogocho slum.

Day 2, Nairobi, afternoon—It was an extraordinary experience to tour the Korogocho slum. In Nairobi, one million people live in slums. In fact, 80 percent of the people in Nairobi live on 20 percent of the land. The area we visited has approximately 80,000 people.
PATH board member Dr. Alex Ezeh started our previsit briefing with this: “In Kenya, you can’t be shy or the lions will get you.”

Day 2, Nairobi, morning—The Kenya staff have really knocked themselves out to make us feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and challenged to learn. One traveler said it’s as much about unlearning our assumptions and beliefs as it is about learning. I liked that.

All images are courtesy of PATH, PATH staff, or PATH Journeys travelers.