Millicent conceived in March 2020, just when Kenya reported the first case of COVID-19. The resident of Mathare, a poor district, was very fearful. Her neighbour Sophie, a care group volunteer with Centre for Peace and Nationhood (CPN), reached out when she realized Millicent was worried. With the support of Sophie and other CPN-trained mentors, Millicent was able to deliver her baby safely and receive post-natal support.
Last August, Mennonite World Conference (MWC) called on members to Love neighbours: share vaccines. Although the equitable rollout of COVID-19 vaccination is still a global concern, the focus has shifted to strengthening vulnerable health care systems.
MWC invites members to love neighbours through four Mennonite Central Committee projects. These health care efforts are supported by MWC member churches in Kenya and DR Congo. One is the Centre for Peace and Nationhood maternal and childcare initiative, a work of Kenya Mennonite Church.
Centre for Peace and Nationhood began this project when the COVID-19 pandemic had just reached Kenya.
Life in the informal settlements changed significantly for many project participants, and the project’s scope also shifted. Despite all these challenges, women in the care group reported significant improvement in the care for their pregnancies and children.
As women in the Mathare community build rapport with health care workers, they become champions within their neighbourhoods of the hygiene skills they have learned. The trust built with health care provides is also a step on a pathway to vaccination for COVID-19. The clinics also teach on COVID-19 prevention and promote vaccination.
Millicent can’t help but compare this child’s birth with her previous. In her first pregnancy, she was all alone. This time, despite the threats of pandemic and more, she was comforted by the support of neighbourhood women, giving care and teaching healthy practices.
“When mothers and babies are healthy, families and communities are healthy,” says Paul Shetler Fast, MCC global health coordinator.
Click here for more on Love Neighbours: Share Vaccines
Click here to donate to MCC’s four MWC member church projects