2 years after setting up Luo Care, we thought the teething problems were over. 240 widows and hundreds of children were registered with NHIF (The Kenyan National Health Insurance Fund) and getting health care when they needed it. Donors had taken out standing orders to support them for years to come. Our scheme was welcomed and working well.
Then in March 2015, the Kenyan government dropped a bombshell. They tripled the insurance premiums, which means instead of paying £15 per family annually, we now have to pay £45.
After months of questions, misinformation and faffing around, it was confirmed that we had to pay up.
When we went to Simbiri in September 2015, we had some harsh decisions to take. We didn’t have enough money to continue supporting all the widows, so we were forced to cut the number from 240 to 100.
How did we pick the 100 beneficiaries? All our widows are recruited according to need, so the first widow was the worst off. After consulting our lead Community Health Worker and administrator, we decided to retain the 1st 75. The other 25 are widows with 5 or 6 or 7 children.
We have also decided to be ultra cautious when we register more widows, so that we can be absolutely certain that we can provide longterm assistance. This means keeping financial reserves. We never want to have to cross widows off the list again.
Now some good news. Our previous administrator Nicholas has joined the police force in Nairobi. He has been replaced by Shem Oducka, who was born and brought up in Simbiri and knows everyone. He has a backup team we can call on when necessary.
One of the team is Alice, a Community Health Worker. She’s absolutely lovely, lives in a mud hut with her two daughters and seems to have boundless energy and cheerfulness.