Bringing cervical cancer screenings to women in Kenya

Today, 445 million women and girls do not have access to a toilet.

Anna used to be one of these women. Anna is a mother of three and lives in Busia County, Kenya. Before constructing a toilet and bathroom for showering on her homestead, Anna and her children would relieve themselves in the bushes, open fields or near a river.

Scholastica is a resident of Kibera. She is a cancer survivor: “I remember hearing about cancer screenings from Amref and Community Health Workers (CHWs) but at first, I just ignored them,” Scholastica recalls.

At the time, Scholastica was always feeling sickly and fatigued but did not think much of it. “The CHWs were very persistent and came checking up on me all the time. They had noticed I was sickly and they tried getting me to go to hospital to get tested.  It was their deep concern that eventually won me over and I went and got tested.”

Scholastica was diagnosed with Stage 3 Cervical Cancer: “I did not know how to react when I heard the result. I never thought that I could get cancer so it was life-changing. I was sad and depressed for a long time after the diagnosis and did not want to see anyone. I just kept to myself and then loneliness made me more depressed,” she states.

Even though she was informed that the cancer was treatable, Scholastica did not believe it. It was only after CHWs met with her and encouraged her that she began to change her perspective.

The CHWs inspired her to use her own story to create awareness about cancer. The constant care she received from the CHVs during her treatment also impressed and made her curious to know more about the great work they were doing: “I asked these wonderful people about their work and I became very interested as I felt it was my duty to help other people just as I had been assisted.” That’s when she decided to become a CHW herself and received training from Amref Health Africa.

Now Scholastica visits churches, mosques, and her neighbors’ homes to create awareness about cancer as well as issues such as HIV/AIDS, hypertension, family planning, hygiene and sanitation. She has also joined a network of cancer survivors who have formed a support group where members help and motivate each other.

I really must thank Amref Health Africa who have equipped me with these skills. I am confident that wherever I go, I will have a positive impact.

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