KEDHAP works with marginalized and vulnerable people in rural western Kenya, almost all of them impoverished farmers making less than a dollar per day, scratching their living from a small plot of exhausted land. About 20% are living with HIV/AIDS, and that number is increasing. KEDHAP sponsors a broad range of services: education assistance, empowerment of girls and women, health care and counselling for people living with HIV/AIDS, income-generating activities, improved farming practices, and peacemaking and conflict resolution. KEDHAP’s goal is to help people find hope and a future where once they had only despair.
What does KEDHAP do?
Assistance for Schools:
- KEDHAP provides clean water by rainwater collection and storage tanks.
- KEDHAP provides textbooks to be shared among high-school students, few of whose families could afford to buy them.
- Primary school is free in Kenya; high school is not. KEDHAP pays school fees for qualified orphans and other vulnerable students, enabling them to attend high school.
Enabling girls to stay in school:
Many young girls from poor families are forced to drop out of school when they reach puberty, because in school they cannot cope with their monthly periods. These girls are often forced into arranged marriages soon after puberty and long before they are ready. They lose their chance for education and their prospects for anything other than child bearing and manual labor.
- KEDHAP provides sanitary supplies every month to vulnerable girls, serving almost 3000 girls in about 50 schools.
- KEDHAP provides special instruction and counselling services for these very young and vulnerable girls, who may otherwise rely on family advice that repeats long-held but extremely harmful tribal traditions.
Dealing with HIV/AIDS:
Rural western Kenya suffered unimaginable devastation during the great AIDS pandemic of the 1990’s and 2000’s, when a great many people died in their most productive years and left many destitute orphans, now mostly grown up. Even now about 20% of the people are HIV positive, and in some areas this percentage is again increasing, especially among young people who no longer exercise necessary safe sex. Here are a few services:
- KEDHAP provides foods supplements to people living with HIV/AIDS who are too weak to work, so they can tolerate the ARV drugs they require (available without cost at Government health facilities).
- KEDHAP gives special attention to providing adequate services for pediatric AIDS patients, whose numbers are tragically expanding.
- KEDHAP provides transportation so people living with HIV/AIDS can attend their monthly medical appointments and receive their allocation of ARV drugs.
- KEDHAP provides counselling and organizes small-group support for mutual care as needed.
- KEDHAP provides teaching and counselling in the schools for teenagers regarding safe sex and protection from HIV, counteracting falsehoods traditionally circulated about AIDS, and replacing this with factual advice.
Agricultural Improvement, Income Generation, and Community Support:
- From 2008, KEDHAP has organized and implemented a large and sophisticated dairy-goat project that organizes widows into clusters of about 45 women each for mutual support and instruction. Each widow in the cluster is given a pure-bred dairy goat. These goats produce far more milk than local goats, thus providing excellent nutrition for the widow’s young children and sometimes a small cash income as well.
- The project includes a breeding program, providing bucks to upgrade local stock, increasing the number of pure-bred goats and the supply of goat’s milk. The only cost to the widow is the return of the first pure-bred doe born to her goat, so it can be given to another widow. This has proved successful and the project is now almost completely self-sufficient.
- KEDHAP builds greenhouses with large water tanks for irrigation. These are provided to groups of farmers (primarily women) to grow market vegetables both for improved nutrition and to sell.
- KEDHAP provides crop seeds, instruction in greenhouse and organic farming, and other training to upgrade farmers’ skills.
- KEDHAP has its own Resource Centre, a central building which provides a small library of textbooks, reference materials, newspapers, other reading matter, and several computers for community use. The Resource Centre has office and meeting space for KEDHAP programs. It enables classroom instruction and self-help or support groups for the many activities of KEDHAP.
Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution:
Much of the area where KEDHAP operates is right on the border between lands occupied by the Luo and Kalenjin ethnic communities. The people in this area have long distrusted each other; there is frequent conflict and sometimes armed violence. KEDHAP endeavours to make peace, not by trying to solve the many historical injustices but by bringing people to work together cooperatively, in the hope they may understand and appreciate each other, even becoming friends.
Some of the initiatives now underway include:
- KEDHAP is forming new greenhouse cooperatives and new dairy-goat clusters in border areas where women from both the Kalenjin and Luo communities work together, learn from each other, and spread their new knowledge and attitudes to their families, neighbours, and friends.
- KEDHAP is including schools in Kalenjin areas, and developing Peace & Life Clubs helping students grow with more inclusive attitudes to other tribes.
- Hot-headed young men sometimes trigger violence and armed conflict. They are encouraged to join informal football (soccer) teams and play with their counterparts on the other side instead of fighting each other.
- When conflicts arise, and on a regular schedule as well, KEDHAP brings community leaders, educational leaders, and church leaders from both communities together to work out their differences and learn cooperation.