Aug 3, 2019
Kenya Women and Girls Program
The Jose Memorial Hemophilia Society and Save One Life hosted a gathering of women impacted by bleeding disorders in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the challenges they face in their communities. Almost 50 women attended the event that provided participants the chance to discuss their experiences raising children with bleeding disorders, receive education on bleeding issues that women can face, and receive Days for Girls Kits and education.
Maureen Miruka, founder of the Jose Memorial Hemophilia Society, initiated the discussion. She shared her own challenges with losing her first son to hemophilia as well as her struggles with unaddressed bleeding symptoms. This allowed participants to share their personal challenges as a woman living in Kenya. Many women were told they were “cursed” because their children were sick and their husbands abandoned the family. Stories also focused on the shame and castigation women face surrounding their menstrual cycles and how they are often forced to miss school and lack access to sanitary products. When affected with a bleeding disorder these challenges are amplified due to heavy periods and increased school or work absences.
Moline, a patient affected by von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) shared her personal perspective of living with a bleeding disorder in Kenya. A common theme throughout the discussion highlighted a lack of awareness and knowledge about bleeding disorders in women and girls and the need for support systems between women.
After providing a safe place to share their experiences and struggles, Maureen and the other leaders introduced the Days for Girls (DfG) educational information and kits. The kits, which were made by volunteers with the Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan’s (HFM) YpsilantiMI DfG Team, were highly appreciated and found to be very thoughtfully put together to address sanitation and disposal.
Through this event, women were able to build community and bonds that will be the foundation for future programming. The women have already established a Whatsapp page to provide peer-to-peer support and their next meeting has been scheduled in December.
A special thanks to Shari Luckey, Laura-Jean Siggens, Jennifer Wakefield, and the YpsilantiMI DfG Team from HFM for helping us deliver these kits to Kenya and for being advocates for women and girls with bleeding disorders around the globe!
To read more about this powerful experience from Board President Laurie Kelley's perspective, click here.