In 2007, The Life Community Based Organization was formed, with the mission of serving the poor and marginalized communities in the Kariobangi and Korogocho slums through participatory engagements aimed at addressing their felt needs and aspirations for better health. The program had four components: HIV/AIDS prevention, Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Support, Community Pharmacy and Essential Drug Supply, and Comedy in Healthcare Initiative. They partnered with Global Healthcare Public Foundation to raise community awareness on HIV/AIDS during World AIDS Day Celebration and in initiating the OVC feeding programme in 2008. Through this collaboration, the HIV/AIDS message reached an estimated 2000 people, 200 children were enrolled for the feeding programme. They also conducted life skills and advocacy trainings where 25 young people were trained with the help of the Ministry of Youth Affairs. Life Community Based Organization also facilitated the establishment of clubs for people who have tested HIV positive, and membership has increased from 14 in 2007 to 122 in 2010. Consequently, people have begun accepting their status and are helping in spreading the message of hope. A community pharmacy has been established to dispense essential medicine to members of the community with funding from members’ contributions. And the Comedy in Healthcare Initiative included youth between 18 and 27 years of age that would travel to entertain the sick in various medical care facilities within Nairobi, thereby helping reduce stress and expedite the healing process.
The Life Community Based Organization began by organizing community forums in various places within the targeted community. LCBO held focus group discussions with various cohort groups at the Kariobangi Community Hall. They also met every Saturday afternoon with local youth and a group of women who had already tested positive for HIV. Through this participatory process of gaining community input, the organization was able to determine the priority needs of the community. In the first three meetings, they identified the various intellectual abilities the group members possessed, which included project planning, community mobilization, environmental conservation, VCT and psychological counseling, theatre, and comedy. In December 2007, the organization was registered and established through initial donations of cash, equipment, and furniture from founding members.
Members of the group formulated goals and objectives for the organization with the facilitation of an experienced community mobilizer and social worker. It was agreed that the group’s mandate was to serve the poor and marginalized communities in Kariobangi and Korogocho slums through participatory engagements aimed at addressing their felt needs and aspirations for better health. This was an economic empowerment/holistic mission which would be driven by very specific objectives.
These objectives were:
The Life Community Based Organization partnered with several other organizations with similar missions to undertake the Healthcare and Community Empowerment Programme. A Global Healthcare Public Foundation provided strategic advice and funding at the inception of the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children feeding programme. Volunteers were trained on group dynamics, life skills and advocacy using competent facilitators from relevant government agencies. Psychosocial counseling and group therapy sessions for HIV infected members have been held on a regular basis since 2007. And with contributions from members and support from partners, the Life Community Based Organization established a community pharmacy to serve as an outlet of essential drugs and family planning supplies to members of the community.
The comedy group has been vetted by the Quality Assurance Division of the Ministry of Education and certified to organize concerts/plays on various books approved by the government for the 8-4-4 O level curriculum. The group stages performances in various schools to encourage youth awareness of HIV/AIDS.
After the Life Community Based Organization’s creation in December 2007, they held meetings with stakeholders every three months to measure the progress of activities. This entailed the programme’s coordinators giving narrative and financial reports to partners and the group’s board of trustees. For the feeding programme, a simple questionnaire was developed to gauge the level of success. The questionnaire was administered to guardians and teachers who provided their opinion about the programme for the first year. One of the issues that came up was that some children did not like the menu, so they incorporated a few children and a nutritionist into the planning committee to help in designing a more acceptable menu and feeding timetable. Through the feedback, additional issues were identified, such as a need for school uniforms for some children, or vitamin A supplementation for others.
Thus, in the second year of the project’s implementation, adjustments were made to resolve emerging issues that were highlighted by the previous year’s evaluation.
Life Community Based Organization has put strategies in place to continue the effort. They have trained youth on life skills and advocacy with the goal of spreading the information to more youth in the community. The LCBO Comedy Group will produce comic videos for sale to sustain some of the organization’s programmes. Most importantly, they also endeavor to share the organization’s success stories with the community.
LCBO’s interventions in the Kariobangi Community have generated significant positive impacts. One, there is evidence of reduction of stigma surrounding an HIV positive diagnosis, demonstrated by the increased number of post-test clubs registered since the first HIV/AIDS awareness activity in 2007. Additionally, 200 orphaned children have been helped through the feeding programme. In fact, 7 of the original beneficiaries have successfully transitioned to Secondary school. And the theatre group has left a mark in the hearts of many patients, especially at the Mbagathi District hospital in Nairobi.