At Mahali Mzuri, our safari camp in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in Kenya, we run a number of key healthcare initiatives for children and young people, which support and amplify wider government programmes.
We spoke to Purity, Camp Nurse at Mahali Mzuri, over a Zoom call recently to talk through the remit of these initiatives and the impact they are having on behaviour change, healthcare and children’s futures.
School meals initiative
In 2019, Mahali Mzuri and generous individual donors built and opened Enkenju - Enkoirien Primary School, located about 4 km from the hotel in Narok County, Aitong Town, in a bid to ensure all children from the local area could attend a school within walking distance, and importantly, that they had access to daily, nutritious meals.
The school currently accommodates approximately 200 students, aged between 6 - 14/15 years, all of whom benefit from the school meals initiative. In direct response to many children in the area going without breakfast and lunch, the initiative ensures that each and every child has access to nourishing food and clean water, needed to fuel their bodies for a full day of learning.
The dining room at Enkenju - Enkoirien Primary School
The meal programme also has the added focus of targeting malnutrition and those with malnutritional disorders. Purity explains that many of the children do not get enough protein in their diets which can ultimately lead to inhibiting their physical and mental growth and development. Instances of kwashiorkor – a severe form of malnutrition caused by a lack of protein and other nutrients - have dramatically decreased as a result of a governmental eradication programme but Purity acknowledges that some local children still suffer from it, so they keep a close eye on the school cohort. The meals are prepared to give the children all the essential nutrients for their development and nourishment; typically breakfast would include fortified porridge and lunch will usually be hot and will follow a healthy recipe which includes a carbohydrate, protein and fruit every day.
Ann, Head of Guest Services and Spa Manager at Mahali Mzuri, personally oversees the day-to-day running and organisation of the nutrition programme to make sure the children get all the food and clean water they need. We recently spoke to Ann about her role in celebration of International Women’s Day, you can read more about her here.
Ann and Purity also work closely on the deworming programme for the local kids. When the meal programme first started, they realised that many of the children had intestinal worms. They started by getting all the kids healthy and worm-free and have since implemented a deworming programme where each child is treated every three months. As a result of generous donations from guests and visitors, they’ve been able to reach and help even more children from neighbouring areas.
The Enkenju - Enkoirien Primary School
Eradicating Menstrual Health Poverty
A 2016 study found that 65% of girls and women in Kenya are unable to afford to buy basic sanitary towels, often relying on men to get them access to the products they need. Purity explains that the effects of this are far-reaching: “We currently have a teenage pregnancy crisis in Kenya. Because young girls simply can’t afford to buy themselves menstrual products such as pads, they often sleep with men to get money to spend on sanitary products and many fall pregnant as a result. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this as girls have been unable to reach places where they’d typically get their period products (or these places were closed during the pandemic).”
Purity explains that combatting period poverty has always been at the top of the agenda at Mahali Mzuri and as menstrual health management is a key government initiative, it’s becoming easier to get people to talking and make some real changes. Indeed, “Kenya is a pioneer when it comes to menstrual health management in Africa, being the first country in the region to give all schoolgirls free sanitary towels.” (BBC: 2019).
Having initiated such an instrumental and necessary programme within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Purity is currently working to get Mahali Mzuri listed as an official government partner in the Eradicate Menstrual Health Poverty programme while having her eye firmly on longer-term methods to combat period poverty and reduce teenage pregnancy: reusable period pads and menstrual cups. “As menstrual products are a monthly cost for women and girls, we are looking to develop partnerships and speak to donors about supplying menstrual cups and reusable pads for girls and women.”
At present, sanitary products are distributed in areas where the team can reach as many girls as possible, such as at clinics and churches. Sanitary items continue to be distributed and available in schools, but with a high dropout rate for girls, it’s important to think outside the box and ensure those not attending school don’t fall between the cracks.
Pack for a Purpose
Pack for a Purpose's mission is to positively impact local communities by assisting travellers to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit. By saving a few kilos of space in their suitcase for much needed school or medical supplies, tourists can create a lasting impact on the lives of families in the local area. Mahali Mzuri has been part of Pack for a Purpose since 2018 and our guests have generously donated everyday essential supplies which many have taken to the school directly.
If you’re planning on visiting Mahali Mzuri and would like to get involved with the initiative, please consider bringing some menstrual cups and reusable sanitary items with you – they would go directly towards young women in the area in the most need of them.