Her community calls her “Daktari wa Mashinani” (village doctor), and she lives up to the billing. With her medicine bag strapped on her shoulders and job aids underneath her arms, Pauline Lominae traverses her community—an arid area characterized by rocky soil—moving from house to house caring for sick children and pregnant mothers.
Pauline, age 30, was among the first CHWs who volunteered to be trained and attached to Isiolo Kenya’s Daaba Health Facility back in 2015 when it was opened, and she currently serves 24 households. Although the weather is harsh and the homes in this arid area sparsely situated from one another, Pauline has not wavered in her resolve, and her passion to serve is as strong as ever.
“I face many challenges when carrying out my duties. The distance from one client to another is quite huge. It is always hot, dry, and dusty—yet I have to trek on foot to reach my clients. I cannot afford the luxury of a motorbike. But either way, I carry on because my people depend on me,” she says.
Pauline is the link between her community and access to lifesaving health services, which she brings to their doorsteps. As with other CHWs, she receives monthly refresher trainings, which are facilitated by the government’s county health team in partnership with Living Goods.
Pauline enjoys educating other women about the importance of exclusive breast-feeding and the dangers associated with home births.
“Every time she visits, she checks on my young son’s health. Pauline has educated me more about the benefits of exclusive breast-feeding and proper nutrition and has taught me how to monitor my children’s nutritional status,” says Modesta, one of the mothers Pauline supports.
Modesta adds: “Despite the drought and hunger situation facing us, I strive to balance our food for the benefit of my family. But I also wouldn’t want to disappoint Pauline.” Undernutrition and malnutrition are some of the biggest challenges in Isiolo, with 16.7% of the children malnourished, according to a 2020 survey. CHWs like Pauline play a key role in supporting their communities to optimize their limited resources to avert stunting among children.
But, in the end, Pauline knows her passion alone can only go so far if the government does not acknowledge the key role that she and other CHWs play in ensuring communities everywhere can access health services. “For the work we do, government should pay our stipends more consistently,” she asks. For now, Pauline is happy that the community she serves values her work and listens to her advice.