She loves children, friends and cooking. And you can’t stop listening to what she has to say. Brenda Florence Matete, Gundua Health Centre’s Nurse Officer, has a warm and confidence-inspiring voice. She also had solid experience as district nurse and midwife in the Health Department as well as in the south of Sudan before she noticed a recruitment ad for the Gundua Foundation.
“My passion is to help the local community, and that is precisely what the Gundua Foundation is all about. As a midwife it is also my duty to work with health-promoting activities, like teaching mothers the importance of clean and safe childbirths. I decided to work for the Foundation because I knew my experience and know-how would do good here.”
The Gundua Health Centre differs from many other clinics that Brenda has worked for during her professional years. Or as she puts it: It will become a modern clinic with access to the right tools. Jessica Jubner Wegbratt, a Swedish paediatric nurse, has provided her services for free as a medical advisor, and together with Brenda she has made sure that the clinic represents the needs identified. With childbirth, aftercare, family planning, advisory services, lab and pharmacy, the ambition is very high indeed.
“We have kept an eye on the construction,” Brenda says. “Jessica has also been in close contact with doctors in Sweden to get the equipment that we can’t find here. But it’s also about developing routines for any situation. Between 50 and 100 patients visit us every day. Day and night.”
One of the issues close to Brenda’s heart is reaching out to women and children. She feels they are very responsive to the message. It is also these groups who are the most heavily hit by deficiencies. But, as she says, change doesn’t happen overnight. This is why she has a close cooperation with the Gundua schools; it’s important to start early. In 2010, Kenya passed a law prohibiting corporal punishment for
children. Unfortunately, the law is not commonly known, and corporal punishment is still very much part of child rearing, both in homes and schools. Brenda and Jessica are therefore visiting also the other schools to inform about the law and children’s rights in society (and to their own bodies and senses). Their next step is to reach out to parents – and that will make a big difference in the community.
All children seeking help at Gundua Health Centre will also, according to common praxis in Kenya, be HIV tested. Should the test be positive, the rest of the family will also be tested, to make sure the infection is caught at an early stage, helping the individual to a proper life.
At the moment, additional personnel are being recruited to the Gundua Health Centre. Altogether, four government nurses, one doctor (half time), a nurse, a lab assistant and a pharmacist will be working at the clinic. Brenda will make sure to create a close-knit team.
“My wish is that we shall be able to offer the very best healthcare, that all small children will get vaccine, that no mothers will die during childbirth, and that the Health Department will eventually take over the responsibility for running the centre.