THE AIMO PROJECT
Improving health, education, and economic opportunities for women and children in rural western Kenya
LETTER OF HOPE
I am Syprose Oliech and I am a rural farmer from Kenya. I have been embracing technology using the smart phone my son bought me. I have access to internet, media and up-to date information. I grew up in a small village in the district but got an opportunity earlier in my life to live in the capital where I learned English and Kiswahili. I also learned basic trade skills.
My life as a teenager was filled with lessons learned from farming; my parents taught me to work hard and now that I am old, I have seen the value in that. The lessons that I have learned as I embrace technology has been a blessing to my life; I have access to internet through mobile data.
The internet had allowed me to have access to new farming practices, ideas for low cost green construction, natural ways to fight pests and more. It has also allowed me to establish working relationships with farmers from around the world and join networks that share information on everything on sustainable development from food diversity to primary education curriculum.
I have shared this knowledge with people from my village and it has helped us increase our food production. I am getting to be an old woman now, 57 years old, and I want to ensure that the people of area have access to up to date information to help them as we develop our communities. That is why I am adding my story for this nobble course. I want to thank anyone wherever they are in the world in advance for willing to help us, our village.
There many things that are new to our community, we just recently saw tarmac road and electricity. We are hoping to see running tap water one day and access to information.
Kagan Village, Homa Bay, Kenya
SYPROSE OLIECH, 57
Mother, Farmer, Community Leader
Over the past year, we have built strong relationships with multiple members of the Kagan Village in Homa Bay County, Kenya. The community is filled with hard-working agricultural families with a passion for education.(1,2) Working with community leaders, we have identified critical needs among women and children. We are looking for partnerships and donations to meet the community’s needs supporting healthcare, digital training, and the empowerment of women and children.
H E A L T H C A R E
Homa Bay County has the highest prevalence of HIV in Kenya and one of the highest malaria incidence rates.(3,4) The closest healthcare facility is a two-hour motorbike ride away, which is the principal barrier to Antenatal and Postnatal care along with other healthcare activities. This leaves Kagan women and children without easy access to modern healthcare practices, medicines, or vaccines.
E D U C A T I O N
Although primary school attendance is very high, secondary school attendance rates plummet in the region due to several factors.(5)
1. Inadequate sanitation
The school’s two student latrines lack privacy between boys and girls, and without water for handwashing, diseases spread. For young girls, the poor sanitary situation and lack of hygienic supplies keep them from attending school during menstrual cycles.
2. Lack of resources
Rural farmers do not have access to modern resources, leading to difficulty maintaining income. Older children often stay home working the family farm rather than attending their classes.
3. Inadequate facilities
Most classrooms lack fixtures such as doors, windows, and proper floors, making wet weather an interrupting factor in day-to-day education.
The barriers keep children, especially young women, from completing secondary school, solidifying a repetitive cycle of poverty and inequality.
D I G I T A L S K I L L S
While the global economy continues to become more digitally connected, farmers in rural villages like Kagan are being left behind without access to information, markets, and services. The closest access to reliable internet is 2 hours away, excluding this agricultural community from the global online ecosystem.
Among women in particular, internet use continues to trail male counterparts, putting mothers and young women at a disadvantage in the digital economy around the world.(6) When surveyed, women in developing countries cite most often a lack of knowledge on how to use the internet in a useful manner as the principal reason they do not use the internet.(7) This highlights a significant opportunity to increase participation in the global online community among women in sub-Saharan Africa through training, workshops, and community education.
We propose a set of last-mile programs to greatly improve the infrastructure of the local primary school in Kagan. With the construction of a community center adjacent to the primary school, programs will address each of the areas highlighted above: Health, Education, and Digital Skills. With thorough documentation, this solution will serve as a model for rural communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa as a last-mile delivery solution to address issues in healthcare, education, and developing digital skills.
H E A L T H C A R E
A health exam office, which can be certified by local health authorities, will provide a clean, enclosed space where both physical and virtual healthcare appointments can take place. Visiting physicians will be able to administer routine care to community members, including vaccinations, disease treatments, and Antenatal/Postnatal consultations. With a centralized healthcare delivery location, community residents and healthcare professionals will have common space to battle HIV, malaria, and other diseases plaguing the community today.
E D U C A T I O N
Increasing the graduation rate among secondary school students requires cultivating a well-focused learning environment, reducing preventable absences, and increasing enrollment among older children.
Basic renovations to existing classrooms will maintain a productive learning environment throughout the year. Installing doors, windows, concrete floors, and robust roofing materials will keep dust and rain out of classrooms during storms.(8)
Constructing adequate latrines to meet the demands of the student population will reduce the spread of infectious diseases. With separate structures for girls and boys and new trainings and hygienic supplies, female students will be able to maintain more regular attendance without having to stay home on a regular basis.(9,10)
D I G I T A L S K I L L S
The community center will be well equipped with public access devices, high-speed internet, and a digital skills development program to teach children and families in a safe, education-focused space.(11) Devices will be kept in secure storage at night and brought out for community use during regular open hours, administered by the local primary school.
Partnering with the Internet Safety Project, educators and other community members will be trained in person and through virtual tutorials to teach children and families how to obtain relevant information, build healthy digital relationships, and create digital content to share with the global community. Focusing on healthy family relationships, parents and children will be taught side-by-side to utilize the internet as a powerful tool and avoid many of the pitfalls common to new internet users around the world.
With streamlined healthcare delivery, increased secondary school completion, and the development of healthy digital skills, the Kagan community will be a thriving example for future rural communities to follow.
Team members in Kenya and the United States have partnered preparing architectural plans, implementation strategies, and a digital skills curriculum tailored specifically for the Kagan community. Architectural plans for the school renovations and latrines have already been approved by the local county and await funding commitments to begin construction.
Local community leaders, including the village chief and the school headteacher, as part of the Aimo community-based organization, have lead the way in sifting through the various needs of the community to identify the most critical opportunities for development. Their leadership and support of this project has allowed community members to gain trust and respect for our team members and support the project themselves.
In the United States, we have partnered with the Internet Safety Project to develop a comprehensive curriculum for the students and community members. As a registered 501(c)(3) organization, the Internet Safety Project also acts as the sponsoring organization to streamline donations and ensure all funds are used in accordance with government regulations.
We are excited to partner with more philanthropic organizations to bring direct access to healthcare services and secure public internet access to women and children in this region. The addition of a digital skills development program to a healthcare delivery site rooted in the local primary school campus creates the perfect ecosystem to improve the health and well-being of all children through sustainable community efforts. After implementing these solutions in the Kagan village, this comprehensive model can be used with minor modifications to raise the quality of life in rural communities throughout the world.
C E R T I F I A B L E M E D I C A L C L I N I C
Dedicated space for administering vaccines, medications, and antenatal/prenatal care.
Running water (interior and exterior for public use), refrigeration, concrete floor,
and covered roof.
Safe access devices and server.
Dedicated curriculum for students and parents, teaching healthy habits and online research skills.
Encourage community content generation in open environment.
LARGE ASSEMBLY AREA
PRIMARY SCHOOL RENOVATIONS
CLASSROOMS: Ages 7-15
All proposed renovations have been approved by Homabay County. Currently the floors and roofs are unfinished and the door and window frames are empty.
CLASSROOMS: Ages 4-6
Current classrooms are made of mud and stick construction. Three new brick classrooms have approved construction documents.
COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTER
Proposed new construction. See diagram below.
Currently in construction.
We have approved construction documents for 8 student latrines.