HealthEd Connect is a small but mighty team based in Independence, MO, working to empower women and children through health, education, and advocacy programs. We are a grassroots-led organization that partners with nearly 150 volunteer community health workers across four countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Nepal, and Zambia. Volunteers are equipped with knowledge in World Health Organization endorsed primary care areas, including first aid, nutrition, sanitation, immunizations, prenatal care, and infant-child monitoring.
Co-founders, Sherri and Jac Kirkpatrick, officially established HealthEd Connect in 2009 after decades of training volunteer community health workers and building close friendships in the areas we now work. Each program took on a unique personality to meet the specific needs of its community, and this is why we’ve thrived over the last 12 years!
The health workers in Malawi, for instance, hold classes for mothers and monitor the development of over 60,000 infants and children annually. Our colleagues have planned and constructed community centers to host these classes and provide literacy education to their community members.
In Nepal, sanitation programs keep families healthy in remote Himalayan villages, while community health programs and projects to improve respiratory health protect those near the border of India. In the capital city, income-generating groups uplift women and promote financial independence.
Community health workers in D.R. Congo serve as Traditional Birth Attendants and safely deliver over 3,000 babies each year. Providing immunizations and educating parents on the importance is another way our colleagues empower those around them.
Communities in Zambia identified lack of education as the greatest threat to children’s health, with one in ten orphaned by the AIDS crisis. Starting small, led by the community health workers, community schools were established for orphans and vulnerable children which now have an enrollment of over 1,400 students. A daily lunch program, girls achievement program, orphans grief support, and high school scholarships are among the wrap-around programs we are proud to uplift.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began, we felt sure that our programs would be put on hold based on the face-to-face nature of the work. But our local leaders didn’t miss a beat and quickly transitioned to teaching their communities how to prevent virus transmission and distributing essential materials like soap and making masks. Community health workers continue to build stronger and more well-rounded programs.
We are thrilled to be able to celebrate the work led by our colleagues with new friends! It takes passionate people to empower communities and uplift lives, and HealthEd Connect is lucky to have supporters, staff, and volunteers around the world with that very goal in mind.
To learn more about our story and how volunteer community health workers create sustainable change, visit our website at www.healthedconnect.org.
This blog was written by HealthEd Connect.