Bridging the Path to Wellness through Cash Assistance

As I step into Zainab’s hut, I am immediately captivated by the pensive look on her face as she breastfeeds her youngest child. With Arfi, her daughter, playfully tugging at the edge of her headscarf on the right, and Abdifatah, Arfi’s twin, finding comfort nestled under her left arm, Zainab’s love and dedication to her family are unmistakable. Despite the challenges she faces, her warm smile radiates a genuine sense of hospitality, inviting me to join her.

Arfi smiles as her mother Zainab places a hand on her shoulder while breastfeeding her youngest of ten children Photo: Nariman Naufal/Kenya Red Cross

Zainab Mohamed Dubow, a 32-year-old mother of ten from Hadun Village, Garissa, has faced numerous challenges keeping her 4-year-old daughter, Arfi healthy. Zainab is one of the beneficiaries of the Cash for Health project implemented by the Kenya Red Cross with funding from the Norwegian Red Cross Society. 

Prior to being enrolled on the project, Zainab’s daughter Arfi, like many children her age in this village, was severely malnourished. To get her treated, Zainab had to make arduous journeys lasting 2 to 3 hours to reach the nearest healthcare facility, often leaving her and Arfi with painful blisters. To shield themselves from the harsh sun, they would set out before dawn and wait until dusk to make the trek back home. This gruelling routine was Zainab’s desperate attempt to ensure Arfi received the medical care she needed.

Since joining the Cash for Health project, Zainab’s life has taken a positive turn. Regular access to medical care has allowed Arfi’s health to gradually improve. No longer burdened by exhausting treks, Zainab can focus on nurturing her daughter’s well-being. The cash assistance has alleviated financial strains, enabling Zainab to pay for transport to and from the Benane Health Centre, purchase essential medications and meet other healthcare-related expenses as well as food. Zainab has found hope, witnessing her daughter’s Z-Score steadily improve, going from having Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) to Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) and slowly getting better.

Kiurix Nyandieka screens a jovial Arfi using the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) Tape at the Benane Health Centre. Photo: Nariman Naufal/Kenya Red Cross

At the Benane Health Centre, Public Health Officer Kiurix Nyandieka sheds light on the changes she has seen in health-seeking behaviour amongst the community members since the Cash for Health project began at the tail end of 2022.

Before the project took off, the community did not prioritize seeking healthcare at the center, as the challenges posed by the drought demanded their immediate attention, giving their health a back seat. However, when a much-needed injection of funds was introduced, we witnessed a remarkable surge in women visiting the facility, driven by a newfound understanding of the significance of screenings for their children, antenatal care (ANC), postnatal care (PNC) visits, and a range of services previously unknown to them. It is truly inspiring to see how empowerment and access to resources can ignite a transformative change in a community’s health-seeking behavior.”

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Nariman Muhashamy

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The Reach Out Blog is a curated collection of inspiring humanitarian stories, showcasing the impactful interventions we have made within communities in Kenya and the individuals who have benefited from the aid initiatives of Kenya Red Cross and Partners

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