Every day, Miriam braves the rugged terrain of her neighborhood in Isiolo, Kenya and treks for kilometers on end, shuffling between her work as a community health worker, a matron at a girls’ secondary school, a women’s groups coordinator, and an entrepreneur. These roles, she says, bring together the causes she is most passionate about: the health, education and economic empowerment of girls and women.
“When I started volunteering as a community health worker, I saw that women and girls needed better support to reverse high maternal and child death rates and to escape generational cycles of dependency and poverty,” says Miriam. “Enhancing women’s access to information, health care, education and capacity to meaningfully participate in economic activities not only changes their lives, but transforms entire families.”
In 2019, Miriam and all the nearly 700 community health workers in Isiolo started receiving more comprehensive support through a co-funded partnership between the Isiolo County government and Living Goods. Apart from receiving regular in-service training and enhanced supervision, Miriam is now also equipped with medicines and a mobile phone loaded with Living Goods’ Smart Health app, which has enhanced her ability to serve her clients.
Nineteen-year-old Susan feels lucky to have Miriam as her go-to health care provider and ally. She has received health education, personalized care, and emotional support throughout her pregnancy – as well as encouragement to resume her studies and pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. Similarly, eighteen-year-old Freida credits Miriam for providing her with support that allowed her speedy return to school three months after delivering her son, John.
“Miriam has been a constant pillar of support enabling me to balance school and new motherhood,” says Freida.
Miriam has supported almost a dozen girls like Susan and Freida to have healthy pregnancies and find placement in local schools to finish their education – including preventing early marriages and female genital mutilation. Miriam also mentors and encourages women of all ages to join local economic groups.
“We are no longer losing as many women and children due to preventable causes,” Miriam reports. Men are also increasingly supporting women to have better health, plan their families, and attain better economic standing.