The Military Wives Association of Kenya (MWAK) has completed a three-day mentorship and maternal health outreach in the Coast region. They visited two military units and conducted a mentorship program to the members of the Kenya Navy Widows Association, at a Mombasa hotel.
Led by the MWAK Chairperson, Mrs Tabitha Kibochi, MWAK started their activities with a maternal and child health campaign at the Kenya Navy Base Mtongwe Base on Tuesday 26 October 2021.
Mrs Kibochi affirmed MWAK’s commitment in ensuring healthy Kenya Defence Forces families, both serving and retired personnel, by working closely with the Compensation and Welfare department as well as the Directorate of Medical Services at the Defence Headquarters.
During the forum that attracted over 300 participants, the Chairperson said that MWAK is aiding in mission readiness by taking care of the soldiers’ welfare and their families under their Motto, ‘Walking far Together’.
The outreach program focused on, among others, child immunization, pre-natal and post-natal services, psycho-social education, family planning, ultrasound services as well as Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT).
During the exercise dubbed ‘Afya Bora Ustawi Wetu’ over 15 abled differently children received physiotherapy assessment to assist them acquire the appropriate assistive equipment to aid in mobility.
Childbirth educator and Lameze expert Mrs Esther Kimani, urged women to take and follow medical advice during pregnancy adhere to proper nutrition and regular body exercises before, during and after delivery.
She further encouraged women to ensure they exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months stating that breast milk is highly nutritious and necessary for young children.
According to Mrs Janet Ruto from Bethany Kids, majority of disability cases that come to their attention, including hydrocephalus and spinal bifida, can be avoided if women take and follow medical advice from health experts. One of the practices she emphasized on was taking folic acid tablets within the First Trimester which she said, can prevent birth defects known as neural tube including spina bifida.
Deputy Commander Kenya Navy, Brigadier Lawrence Gituma lauded MWAK for their commendable work in shaping the lives of the military personnel, especially those dealing with trauma associated with having disabled children
“Your engagements in this field have been an eye opener in realization of the best practices in health care. Military command has effectively dealt with training and equipping of soldiers and
MWAK is playing a complementary role of holistically adding value to the lives of the military personnel and their families,” said Brig Gituma.
MWAK further visited The Kenya Navy Hospital Maternity Wing to see the developments that that have taken place in the facility since their last visit.
A beneficiary of MWAK, Mrs Susan Aseneka, thanked the Association for bringing the maternal and child outreach which, she said, has offered them a great learning opportunity on diverse health spheres.
“It is such a blessing to have MWAK here today to teach us more about taking care of our infants especially breast feeding which we usually do wrong. The lessons learnt today will assist us in detecting any medical problem with our babies in early stages so we can seek medicare promptly,” she said.
On Wednesday 27 October 2021, at a Mombasa hotel, MWAK conducted a mentorship session to the widows of Kenya Navy soldiers.
The meeting which brought together over 25 KDF widows within the Mombasa region, was geared towards understanding the status of the widows’ welfare and identifying areas of collaboration and advocate mitigation measures of identified challenges.
The widows were urged to take advantage of Ministry of Defence gender policy by registering groups or companies to enable them access credit facilities to improve their livelihood.
The Chairperson of Mwanzo Mwema, Mrs. Rehema Farrah, shared with the participants the journey the Mariakani widows have walked in changing their lives when their husbands died. Mwanzo Mwema is the Mariakani Garrison Widows Welfare Group.
She attributed their fortunes to former Defence Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Dr Monicah Juma who helped them register the welfare group as a Community Based Organization (CBO) in 2020 opening a new chapter of savings and investment.
On Thursday 28 October 2021, MWAK concluded their coast activities with a maternal health outreach at Mariakani Garisson to over 200 participants.
The Garrison Commander Brigadier Godfrey Buluma appreciated the efforts MWAK has made since its inception saying they have uniquely and positively touched the lives of the soldiers and their families.
“I am delighted to host the MWAK team that has made a significant mark in the lives of our KDF personnel and their families on this very important aspect of health mark. This has contributed significantly to welfare, wellbeing and overall morale of KDF personnel thus enabling KDF family to be motivated and be able to focus on their mandate as mission ready force,” said Brig Buluma.
Mrs Franscicah Najipu, spinal bifida survivor encouraged mothers to take ante-natal care seriously to avoid such complications.
She shared her life experience of living with disability demystifying the notion that disabled people are less important in the society adding that MWAK is doing a noble work of creating awareness of disability, maternal and child health care to reduce disability in Kenya.
The coast region activities come just a few days after MWAK concluded similar activities in Nairobi, Eldoret, Gilgil and Nakuru region.The next outreach is scheduled to take place from 1 -5 November 2021 in Lakipia and Isiolo regions.