Mama Sema, in Kiswahili means “Women Speak” – it’s a group of around 20 ladies from Timbwani who meet every Thursday afternoon to learn from the Bible, pray together, share stories and build closer relationships to strengthen their support network for each other within the village.
Over the last couple of years, many health issues have arisen both within our group and within the village. Women find themselves worrying because of lack of knowledge about a variety of ailments and being unfamiliar with the importance of screening programmes, many don’t attend, which means that diseases such as cancer go undetected until symptoms begin to show, this is often too late.
In partnership with a Doctor from England, Chris Galbraith and her two daughters, we’ve been raising funds to offer support for HPV vaccinations to protect girls from the virus, which can be the leading cause, in cases of cervical cancer. Thank you to so many of you who have given so generously, check out our progress here – we raised the target because it was so successful, which means that we’ll be able to offer the vaccination to protect many more girls than we had thought. We are working with health officials in the area to get the project off the ground and will purchase the vaccines locally. We’ll update you as it happens…
In the meantime, Chris is speaking to students in Tumaini about life and health issues to raise awareness of various infections and disease. During these talks, Chris and our teachers are giving advice about living successfully and healthily throughout adolescence and into adulthood, and students are learning how to take care of themselves in body, mind and spirit.
Yesterday, we introduced health chats in Mama Sema. During the week, many people raised the health issues that concern them and Chris discovered that there are common issues affecting people which could be discussed in an open session, making time for questions, open, anonymously and in private. Mamas actively participated in the discussion and in addition to talking about management of the massive issue of indigestion and excess acid; Chris offered advice on simple ways to avoid the build up of acid. An interesting discussion ensued about the foods people had eaten the day before and how they were prepared. It was a hugely beneficial session for everyone and we encouraged mamas to invite their friends and neighbours for session 2 next week, when we’ll be discussing issues of cancer, voted by everyone present as their biggest concern.
Thank you Chris, Anna and Grace for giving your summer to bring extra health education to our community and thank you so much to everyone who has given support towards HPV vaccinations.