Tuesday mornings mean one thing for the staff at Baraka Hospital in Narok Country, Kenya—Clinic ya Watoto—it’s Swahili for Child Welfare Clinic. The weekly care clinic provides mothers and their babies with access to essential health services in an area of the Maasai Mara where checkups weren’t commonplace until WE Charity’s health programming started. Now, baby giggles and boisterous infant cries fill the air as moms mingle on the grounds, waiting to see the doctor.
Mothers travel up to three hours to get to the hospital, typically by foot or motorbike, to ensure their children are set up for success early on in life. Programming includes immunizations, nutritional guidance, growth monitoring and assessment of developmental milestones. It’s focused on children age five and under, with a special emphasis on that first year, to ensure babies are getting all the care and resources they need to grow up healthy and strong.
WE spoke with three mothers on a sunny Tuesday, while they were waiting for their checkup, about how the clinic impacts them, and their hopes for their young children.
Meet: Sharon Rotich
Number of children: 4
Ages: 11, 7, 5 and 2 weeks old!
Why are you here today?
My daughter, Ivyn Chepkoech, was born here two weeks ago. When I was here I saw that they have good services and I decided to come back. This is my first clinic visit and my daughter was given shots, so I know she will not get any diseases.
What is the best part of the program and why?
The best part is that I don’t have to wait for long to get service. Even on a day like today, when there are so many mamas waiting to be seen, I didn’t wait for long.
Your baby has a beautiful name. Who was she named after?
She was born early in the morning, so I gave her the name Chepkoech. It is a name given to girls in my community who were born in the early hours of the day.
What’s your favourite activity with Chepkoech?
I just like spending time with her, trying to make her laugh.
What is one lesson you learned from your parents that you will pass along?
I was taught to always work hard, so I will teach her to be hardworking too.
Meet: Kisinyenye Korieta
Number of children: 3
Ages: 4, 2 and a now one-month-old
Why did you come here today?
I came here because this clinic has the best services. The doctors are very good. I came here for care for all my children, even before they were born. Now, I’m coming here to make sure the baby is growing ok.
Which maternity services have you received here at Baraka Hospital?
They tested me for diseases when I got pregnant and gave me supplements. They also weighed me during my pregnancy to make sure I wasn’t losing weight. I gave birth here and I have brought all my children to the clinic here.
What do you like most about the health care you receive here?
The doctors are very keen here. When I had my children, the doctors and nurses made sure the babies were fine. They kept them warm. They also monitored me after birth to ensure that there were no complications after the delivery.
Why do you think it’s important for women to have access to this type of care, no matter where they are living?
Personally, I could have given birth at home, but I know that complications can happen during birth and no one will be able to help. What if I bleed too much? Or what if my baby has a problem when they are born? I just don’t want to take the chance. So, I think it’s important for all women to go to the hospital before, during and after birth.
Meet: Naramat Nabala
Number of children: 2
Ages: 3 and 4 months old
Why do you come to Baraka?
Baraka has quality health care, the doctors are nice and they always have medicine for my child.
How has Clinic ya Watato helped you?
My children are healthy. I never worry, because if they get sick I can come here, and they will be treated.
Your daughter, Valentine, is just four months old, and your son is three. When you think about them growing up, what do you wish for them?
I want my daughter and son to go to primary school, then secondary and then university so they can get good jobs and they never worry about money. My husband and I are farmers, but I want my children to get office jobs.
What is one lesson you learned from your parents that you will pass along to Valentine?
I want my child to be kind. My parents always taught me to show kindness to everyone and I want my children to be the same.
Interviews have been condensed, edited and translated from Swahili.