Mashavu continues to run smoothly here in Kenya. The past two weeks have been less stressful, but have been full of completing small tasks that each contribute to Mashavu’s operational success. Immediately following the launch day, we met with the District Minister of Health to brief him on what happened and discuss plans moving forward. He advised us that we were smart to see how things play out over the next two months before making any additional major changes / scaling beyond our 6 employees. Additionally, Steve, Dr. Munyua and I had a long discussion about what groups of people are best to pull from future employees. Our two options are community health workers or Diabetes health educators. Munyua believes it may be in our best long-term interests to partner with diabetes support groups but as an arm of the MOH and not necessarily through Nyeri County Diabetes Support Group. No matter how we partner with the diabetes support groups, they are a rising presence in the world of non-communicable diseases here and there is a huge potential for collaboration.
Following that meeting, we met with the leaders of the Kenya Defeat Diabetes Association and the Nyeri County Diabetes Support Group. We discussed what our current operations were and how we were planning on moving forward. They briefed us on their initiatives and several recently acquired grants. At one point in the meeting, we hit a point of tension when someone suggested that Mashavu was opportunistic and trying to make money off of sick people. I quickly jumped in to clarify that Mashavu does not have external funders. Our employees must charge for their services in order to ensure its sustainability. That is a major difference between Mashavu and the NCDSG and KDDA – and thus it was important to clarify our business philosophies. The meeting concluded with a resolution to discuss further opportunities in May, once we have the man power to hold trainings etc. and once the election chaos has finished.
We have also had to meet several times with Dr. Kinyiri, the doctor who works at the Gatitu dispensary. We first brought him the new receipt books so that he understood what he would be collecting from the MHWs each month and the format that the information would be reported in. On a different day, we brought Bernard – the Mashavu Manager – with us so that he could meet Dr. Kinyiri and the two of them could exchange numbers. If/when problems arise on the ground in March and April it is Bernard who will be responsible for handling issues. Bernard has also been extremely helpful as we try to open our new bank account as a subsidiary of the CYEC. Apparently it is common knowledge here that when you apply for a new bank account you not only have to bring your passport but also passport sized photos of yourself. It took us two trips to the bank to figure that out.
Our final meeting was with the Provincial Public Health Officer. Similar to Dr. Munyua, he likes to be kept in the loop and is a major supporter of Mashavu. He encouraged us to acquire business permissions on a regional level and gave us some contacts to help make that happen. If achieved, Mashavu employees will have a much larger area in which they are allowed to work. Between the PPHO and Maina, we should be able to make this happen.
So for now, things are smooth. Our employees are happy and we are continuing to see success here in Nyeri. Hopefully this continues through the elections and until we return in May.