The Winner of the 2013 Dignity and Right to Health Award
The "Dignity and Right to Health Award" is an
international award established to address health and development
issues including HIV. The "Dignity and Right to Health Award" is an
activity of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association
(ICMDA) Leadership in Christian Health and Development Initiative.
The committee this year has been challenged
by the difficult task of choosing a winner for the 2013 award. All three
nominations have more than adequately met the various criteria of the
We are happy to share with you the name of the winner of
the 2013 Dignity and Right to Health Award of the ICMDA Leadership in Christian
Health and Development Initiative.
The Beacon of Hope Centre (Jane Wathome and her team)
have been chosen this year in a very closely matched review. We thank Dr Anne
Merriman of Hospice Africa, Uganda and Mama Wandoa Mwambu of the Upendo Centre,
Tanzania for also inspiring all of us with their powerful and encouraging
Today I am delighted again to share with you the story of
Beacon Of Hope
(BOH) whose director is Jane Wathome.
The Beacon Of Hope Story
Criteria 1. Leadership
- Demonstrated visionary and innovative
Beacon of Hope (BOH) is a Resource Center for HIV
affected women and children in a slum area, Ongata Rongai, on the western
outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. A Kenyan
woman, Jane Wathome, after seeing women in her work and church worlds going
around and around the cycle of poverty, HIV and the sex trade felt God's call
to leave the marketplace and equip herself to walk with these women toward
physical and spiritual health.
She says that the vision for BOH came from the women
themselves. When she asked them what they needed to get out of this cycle of
HIV and poverty, they knew, empowerment, including skills to earn a living,
medical resources and health information for themselves and their families, as
well as schooling for their children.
Jane also said that the women had the vision of outreach
to eventually become a training site for other communities in Kenya and
eventually other regions of Africa. The
diagram /vision was the biblical vision Jesus cast, "you will be my
witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the
earth", which put into their world.Ongata Rongai, their slum home, then
other communities in Kenya and then other countries of Africa.
BOH is in its 11th year.. Jane leans heavily on her church, friends and
business community. The vision is always to make BOH a Center of
Excellence with everything done so that BOH becomes
self-sustaining and God is glorified.
Criteria 2. Target
group - Marginalised / Hard to Reach Communities
Provision of health services for communities who have
difficulties in accessing care due to ethnicity, caste, behaviour, and or other
reasons, or are hard to reach due to geographical difficulties, violence or
There were no clinics in Ongata Rongai that these women
could afford. Jane began by driving them
across Nairobi to a free clinic, but then a nurse volunteered to set up a small
clinic at BOH so that VCT could be offered as well as basic care provided.
The Japanese Embassy selected BOH to support and finished
the clinic, staffed it and stocked it, including a CD4 machine. The clinic has been open to all the women of
Rongai, no matter their faith. A large
Muslim community across the road asked if their women could come for care. This was the answer to the prayers of the BOH
women to reach all women in their community with the love of Christ.
Criteria 3. Program
impact at local and wider level,
others in integrated community responses,
church integration and participation in best practice
models of care
excellence in full community involvement and
empowerment of the target communities
facilitates and advocates for gender equality in community
participation and response to issues faced by the target
. Links well
with government and other actors in a comprehensive
approach to issues faced by the target communities
creative and compassionate responses that inspire many to
similarly enhance the dignity and human rights of the
There are well over 1000 women on the BOH inventory with
These are women who were dying, had lost family members
and most were unable to care for their children or themselves. These women are now trained in several career
choices, are empowered and have marketable skills. Many are part of small micro
finance groups that have been set up at BOH. They have many and varied businesses after entrepreneurial
training. They have been taught how to
create gardens in a big plastic bag that are able to feed up to four. Seedlings are free from BOH. These women, teens in the teen clubs and
their children in the schools now have a vision of their own and a hope for a
BOH's vision from the beginning was to be a training
center for other communities within Kenya and then the rest of Africa. BOH
teams work with these communities to help set priorities, and review their
capabilities and resources. They help
them to establish goals, become trained and remain accountable as they grow.
BOH is committed to stay connected with them until they become a center of
excellence, their own Beacon of Hope.
Beacon has first and foremost presented themselves as
Faith Based. They are an outgrowth of
Nairobi Chapel and last year The Chapel started a church plant in Ongata
Rongai. From the initial contact with
BOH, each woman is encouraged to become a part of discipleship, biblical
counseling and bible study programs. In
the spring of 2013, BOH was able to recruit their own pastor on site and
spiritual care programs are being run right on site.
From the beginning, Jane has leaned heavily on the Kenyan
community. She has networked within
Kenya, and within her Christian community, the business community and
volunteers. This has established the preschool classrooms, the nursing station,
and the weaving, tailoring and other courses. Initially, there was no money to pay salaries, but when potential
funders saw what was happening and the way it was being done as, A Center of
Excellence, food, children's chairs, computers, and innumerable other
necessities began arriving. Jane has met
the government medical departments with a request that they fulfill their
duties to provide ARV's. They have the order ready for Beacon when they arrive
to pick it up. Jane is a woman who has
no fear when it comes to helping these women and communities break out of the
poverty cycle and live healthy, empowered lives. Always upfront it is God that empowers and
deserves the Praise.
You cannot comprehend the impact of this group of once
poverty stricken women until you walk around Beacon. It is Africans doing the right thing for
their own, in the right way and God receives the glory.
The result is healthy, women, children and families who
are very aware that God is responsible for this, by using willing people and
resource's to change their lives.
At this time, there are 12 communities from Kenya that
have asked for help to empower their young people, and at least one that has
asked for help to develop a medical care program. There have been requests from
communities from at least 2 other countries in Africa wanting to know more
after hearing about BOH.
Criteria 4. Personal
Exemplifies a life that does justice, loves kindness and
walks humbly with God Assists individuals to be worshipers of the Living God
Jane, herself is an amazing visionary and a very capable
delegator. She has
been purposeful in gathering board members and staff to
move BOH toward this
Center of Excellence vision that the women along with
Jane have set. She
leads by example both at BOH, in her church community and
in the partners
that have come alongside.
Jane Wathome, her husband Ken and their 3 children could
have walked by all
this and would have been seen as upstanding Christians
and leaders in a
growing and multiplying church. No one would have criticized them. They
have chosen a different path. Their faith and passion are catchy. They are
sold out to obey and follow Christ. They have heard God's heart to take
care of the widow and orphan in a sensitive and very
empowering way with a
lot of input from the women of Ongata Rongai themselves.
Final Comments...BOH is one amazing place. To see the way these women who
were so broken now walk so tall, is a credit of what God
can do through men
and women who are willing to obey his call to minister to
the least of
Thank you for the opportunity to share this story,