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Global Health Thought Leadership

Igniting Transformation Around the World

By Jenelle Williams, Director of Programs, Global Health Action

GHA was founded on the belief that the key to improving local and global health is to train, educate, and empower individuals. This core value was put to the test in 2020 as COVID-19 locked down entire communities, exacerbated existing health and safety vulnerabilities, and threatened lives around the world.

Through its proven model of listening to needs and then mentoring, coaching, training and providing technical assistance to organizations who are ready to transform their communities, GHA is making a difference at the forefront of the global pandemic. In the midst of travel restrictions and constrained resources, GHA continued working (often virtually!) alongside organizations in Kenya, Uganda, Haiti and beyond. At the request of program alumni, GHA facilitated the development of a COVID-19 response team in Kenya and Uganda to meet immediate nutrition, psychosocial, and safety needs of their neighbors during the pandemic. As a result, innovation at the community level flourished.

2020-2021 proved the value of GHA’s ongoing investment in transformational leadership and local solutions to global health challenges!

In 2020, GHA coordinated the development of a groundbreaking COVID-19 Response Team in East Africa. This network formed in response to COVID-19 to immediately implement life-saving programs while also expanding organizational capacity for sustainability to meet future needs in their communities. Now, the network has grown to become the GHA East Africa Network focused on community strengthening and health system strengthening in East Africa. GHA is currently expanding its networks and capacity building programming in the upcoming months! To learn more, partner and support, please visit us at https://globalhealthaction.org/

Since the onset of COVID-19, GHA provided over 700 hours of intensive coaching, mentoring, and training to 13 organizations. Focused on leadership development, organizational development, and program design and implementation, this comprehensive approach to capacity building demonstrated immediate and sustained impact in Kenya and Uganda.

Response team members educated communities about COVID-19 prevention, creatively identified local assets to make or source face masks, distributed emergency food packages, engaged with local government for improved COVID-19 response, and much more! Team members credit these successes to the training and technical assistance provided by GHA. There are many stories of the impact of GHA’s programming, here are a few highlighted below:

Young Women Creating & Distributing 25,000 Face Masks

Grace Adhiambo, director of Women Volunteers for Peace (WOVOP), joined other grassroots organizations in Kenya as part of the COVID-19 Response Team in April 2020 after learning about this unique opportunity to receive mentorship, training and technical assistance from GHA. WOVOP began making face masks with materials donated by community members and then distributed them for free to children, the elderly, people living with disabilities, and small- and micro-enterprise businesswomen. WOVOP distributed over 25,000 face masks in the midst of the first waves of COVID-19 and has now expanded their programming to address the needs of girls returning back to school. Reaching beyond their local community, WOVOP partnered with other response team members to distribute face masks to other communities without access to these life-saving supplies.

Grace was recognized by the Chairperson’s Special Envoy on Youth of the African Union Commission for her innovative work during COVID-19.

Feeding Over 1,000 Families in Soweto Slums

The Soweto Youth Initiative (SYI), established by young people in the Soweto slums on the outskirts of Nairobi to nurture and empower the community, had never received external funding in the 20 years prior to connecting to GHA. However, using the skills learned in GHA training and coaching sessions, Bonface Kangonga, co-founder and program manager, and the SYI team restructured their organizational, volunteer management and fundraising plans. As a result, they organized a successful emergency fund at the start of COVID-19. The fund surpassed the initial goal and raised enough money to sustain more than 1,000 vulnerable families with food for 6 months. Simultaneously, SYI raised funds and launched a 1.5 year-long feeding program which is currently feeding 800 kids a hot meal twice a week.

Bonface was presented Youth Agenda’s Top 35 Under 35 Award for Youth Excellence.

Delivering Emergency Food to Children in Dandora Slums

With a population of approximately 40,000, the Gitare Marigo community is located near a dumpsite within the Dandora slums of eastern Nairobi. With few income opportunities during COVID-19, large families live in shanties and often eat only one meal every three days. Due to the devastating hunger, children will eat anything, including dangerous and harmful foods from the dumpsite.

Daniel Steven Rateng, project coordinator at Ugenya Youth and Community Development Project (UYCDP), credits GHA for inspiring him to mobilize funding to provide food parcels and face masks to over 2,000 individuals in 500 households in Gitare Marigo.

Sparked by a GHA training, Daniel engaged his community and restarted the grassroots organization, UYCDP. Using skills learned from GHA, UYCDP has been formally approved as a local NGO, mobilized funds to launch the food project in Gitare Marigo, and kick-started another project providing psychosocial support to women and children impacted by the pandemic.

“With GHA, I was inspired to start again! Thank you, GHA!” Daniel Steven Rateng, UYCDP

Meeting Critical Healthcare Needs in Rural Kenya

Impact Healthcare International (IHI) is a faith-based local health facility currently operating in Nakuru County, Kenya, covering an area of 296 square miles with a population of 269,722 people. The only health care facility in the area, IHI provides comprehensive primary healthcare services to 72,000 people annually.

After participating in an in-person GHA leadership, management and governance training, IHI’s board and leadership committed to transforming the organization. Since then, IHI’s management team participated in monthly one-on-one coaching sessions as well as the COVID-19 response team group sessions. Using the skills learned from GHA, IHI adopted organizational policies, developed both a budget and an annual work plan, and upgraded from a community-based organization to a registered non-governmental organization.

As a result, IHI has now opened an Impact Healthcare Annex to extend health services to the Solai community further north in the Rift Valley, where people have long struggled to access healthcare.

“Because of GHA, we are a stronger organization better meeting the health needs of our community.”

Paul Chepkwony, IHI 

About Global Health Action

GHA engages with communities around the world to drive transformational change for the health and well-being of women, children, and adolescents.

To learn more, go to https://globalhealthaction.org/ or email [email protected]!

Global Health Action is a member of The Center for Global Health Innovation which exists to advance global health equity by promoting and facilitating collaboration amongst business, academia, non-profits and government organizations and linking them with partners in the US and other countries to drive impactful innovation. 


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