Residents of Maua enjoy health services from Fairtrade Premiums through Kiegoi Tea factory ltd.
Steep hills, curving roads and poor transport were the challenges being faced by residents of Maua, where tea growing has been their major source of income.
Lack of enough health facilities made the locals walk long distances to the district hospital, spending more time to seek for treatment instead of being in the farms.
The communities started the initiative of bringing the services closer to themselves, by acquiring land and constructing simple structures, but due to poor co-ordination with government, they lacked medical personnel. The structures remained un-operational for many years, till Kiegoi Tea factory came to their rescue.
Being the first factory in Kenya to be certified by Fairtrade in 2003, most of the premium went to renovating the health centers and buying the medical equipment. Through talks with government and the local authorities and politicians, four health centers were brought to full function, employing medical personnel and stocking drugs. This brought relief to pregnant mothers, children, the old and youths saving many lives.
“A health center in Kiegoi offers maternity services. We have another one which is out patient, then one offers HIV/AIDS treatment”, says Henry Murea, the former premium committee chairman.
He says the mega project is the palliative day care center which consists of a large hall with offices offering counseling services.
Amwamba community dispensary is located ten kilometers away from the district hospital. It serves more than 14,000 people with more than 200 patients served daily at the outpatient facility.
The clinical officer at the dispensary, James Mureithi noted that the facility is in need of more facilities to serve the increasing population.
Patrick Muriki is seen lying, on the ground outside the dispensary, with a crutch by his side. His left leg was cut off, after he developed what he describes as a small wound. If it were not for the management of the tea factory, Patrick’s condition would have been worse.
“Kiegoi Fairtrade premium committee came to my home and took me to the hospital, as I could not afford, I will forever be grateful for this,” says Patrick amidst pain.
Patrick says he spent four months in the hospital, and after he was operated on, he spent six days in the ward.
Using Fairtrade premium, 60,000 shillings was paid for Patrick’s hospital bill. But he comes at Amwamba dispensary for check up and cleaning of the wound. He just can’t afford transport to the district hospital and the dispensary has been a great relief to Patrick.
Kiegoi tea factory has also helped in other medical areas to help the disabled by buying them wheel chairs, artificial limps and hearing aids for the deaf.
Kenneth Muthuri is an employee of Kiegoi Tea Factory limited. He lost one of his hands while operating a tea processing machine. He was compensated through an insurance scheme, but he needed an artificial hand. The Fairtrade premium bought Patrick an artificial hand.
“I urge more Kenyans to buy Fairtrade products so that more people can benefit in the society”, says Patrick outside his shop.
The factory has also helped bring electricity to the people by installing power transformers. Schools have been built, and computer courses and services established to offer trainings at an affordable fee.
A program to combat climate change has been established through tree planting, with much emphasis on indigenous tree species.
A big hydro power generation project from a local river is in the pipeline and waiting funding to kick off.