Users of the social networking site Facebook often swap stories about their exciting exploits: the person who meets a former schoolmate online dozens of years later, the woman who discovers her husband’s status is “single”, the young man who pokes and chats his way into love and marriage. As these stories go, Maurine Murenga’s is the type that stands out. She’s a social worker for Lean on Me , an organization helping young people in Kenya face the challenges of living with HIV. She’s known as the Mother Teresa of Nairobi East - a well-deserved name tag. On a typical day, Maurine gets dozens of distress calls. One such call came one early Sunday in September last year, Maurine knew she had to act fast. The person on the other end wanted to talk to the social worker about a woman lying helpless on a street in the neighborhood. Maurine immediately recognized the signs of physical and sexual abuse. Ever the coordinator, Maurine quickly organized for a cab, collecting coins from bystanders to help transport the injured woman to a Nairobi hospital that treats cases of sexual abuse. As it was, the hospital would not admit the injured woman. As Maurine says, a spokesperson of the hospital said the patient was bleeding badly - a condition that meant that she was out of the bracket of the injuries the hospital could attend to. Maurine would have to take the patient to a hospital elsewhere before bringing her back to the facility for treatment of sexual assault. This time Maurine called a non-profit organization to help with ambulance services to transport the patient to Kenyatta National Hospital. At Kenyatta, no-one attended to the patient until many hours later. The first tests on her were done six hours after her arrival in the hospital. After 10 hours of waiting, Maurine could finally go home to rest, as the patient had been admitted and booked for surgery - five hours later. As it turned out, the delayed treatment took its toll on the young woman. When Maurine arrived at the hospital the next morning, she heard the patient had succumbed to her injuries before she could get to the theatre. For Maurine, this was not the end of her work. Her next challenge was to determine the identity of the young woman and find her relatives.
The four-year Health Media Project (HMP) launched in January 2013. It builds on the success of Internews’ Voices in Health media training program (2003-2012).