|One of my favorite days doing field work|
In short, I work with a NGO that focuses on reducing maternal and child mortality in rural Kenya by encouraging women to give birth in clinics instead of at home where labor complication are more likely to become fatal. We do through a program called "Operation Karibu" which provides women with baby clothing at the end of the delivery process if they give birth in thier local clinics. This has proven to be a powerful incentive for mothers (who would not otherwise be able to afford new baby clothing) to give birth in clinics instead of at home.
Initially, we collected the baby clothing as donations from the United States and then distributed them to the clinics to give the women participating in our program. Now, in an effort to make the program more sustainable and to ensure that it is a community involvement in it, we have partnered with women in our communities we to set up local production sites for the baby clothing. We source recycled t-shirts and other materials to allow the women to produce the clothing locally. We then buy back the clothing and distribute them to the clinics in the Operation Karibu program.
My job is to overlook the production process as well as collect and analyze data on the implementation of the Operation Karibu program and the impact it has had on the communities in each of our six sites. I document general trends and outcomes of the births at the clinics since our program started and identify areas of the program that need improvement and coordinate accordingly with community members and stakeholders to make those improvements. To do this, I go out to the field every week to collect data and conduct interviews with community health workers, nurses and the mothers in our program. I then compile all this information (and my own observations) for our records and summarize and send reports to the president of our organization.
Additionally, I provide materials (in the form of pictures etc..) from the ground to our social media team back in the United States.
So far, I really enjoy the work. Through field work can prove to be particularly challenging sometimes, I appreciate the fact that I have the opportunity to go out to the community to see the impact that our program is having on the ground instead of sitting at an office all day.
Moreover, as a person who loves doing research and who is committed to working in the interest of African communities, this is precisely the kind of work I want to be doing for the rest of my life.