David F. Moser
David F. Moser worked as a rural community development advisor while living in a small village in central Kenya from July 2004 to July 2006. He served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in the Public Health sector, and assisted many small organizations with their public health, environmental conservation, and income generation activities. During his stay in Kenya, Dave immersed himself in the culture, learning both the national (Swahili) and local (Kimeru) languages and forming many lifelong friendships.
Dave arrived in Kenya on May 26, 2004 after completing a competitive application process that examined applicant experience, skills, and cultural adaptability and sensitivity. Upon arrival in Kenya, he began an 8-week training course in Naivasha that included Swahili language training (140 hours), technical training in public health (105 hours), cross-cultural training (72 hours), and field-based training and development studies (6 days). He lived with a Kenyan host family for the duration of this pre-service training.
Upon successful completion of training, Dave swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer and began his service on July 23, 2004. He was assigned to work under Kenya's Ministry of Health with Kwama Ntharene Environmental Project, a small community-based organization located in the village of Ntharene, Meru Central District, on the eastern side of Mt. Kenya.
From July 23, 2004 until his completion of service on July 22, 2006, Dave collaborated with his community in three main areas: public health, environmental conservation, and income generation. His first two months in Ntharene were spent conducting a baseline public health survey, visiting over 30 families in the area and filling out a questionnaire that he developed. Based on the results of this survey, much of Dave’s time focused on people living with HIV and youth both in- and out-of-school, while collaborating with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and faith-based organizations (FBOs). His primary area of coverage was South Imenti Constituency, which has a population of 156,000 covering 250 square miles.
HIV/AIDS Awareness: Throughout his service, Dave developed and facilitated HIV/AIDS awareness workshops, conducted in a mix of Swahili, Kimeru and English, with twenty local primary, secondary, and tertiary schools, five CBOs, and five FBOs. Topics covered included HIV/AIDS transmission, prevention, risk assessment and reduction, disease progression, stigma reduction, living positively with HIV, and life skills. Through these workshops, he reached over 5,000 people between the ages of 14 and 25. Many of these workshops were conducted in association with the community outreach program of a local hospital and HIV-positive members of the community willing to discuss their status and how they live a positive, healthy life.
Ntharene VCT Center: Dave and a local CBO established a voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT) center in Ntharene to address the unmet demand for VCT services in the community. He assisted the CBO in applying for, receiving, and administering a $4,825 grant towards construction of the facility. The VCT center serves the greater South Imenti community, and was constructed on public land with the approval and encouragement of local health officials and community leaders. Members of the community contributed labor towards construction of the facility, and the grant funds were used to purchase building materials and skilled labor. Prior to the completion of the VCT center, he assisted the CBO in selecting four people from the local community to attend workshops on VCT Counselor Training and VCT Quality Assurance. He coordinated the counselor selection and financial assistance for these trainings with a representative from the CDC.
Mobile VCT: In collaboration with local and national NGOs, Dave organized five mobile VCT clinics. Two of these clinics were held at Ntharene market to raise awareness about VCT, and the other three were conducted at local teacher's training colleges in response to the high demand for VCT services at these institutions. Over 350 people were tested for HIV during these five clinics, and client flow at nearby stationary VCT centers increased as a result of the clinics.
HIV/AIDS Support Group: Dave facilitated the development of South Imenti HIV/AIDS Action Group (SIHAG), a local support group for people living with HIV. He assisted the group by attending meetings, providing support and encouragement, and conducting workshops on nutrition and home-based care. By the end of his service, the group’s 30 members were meeting every two weeks to share experiences, support those that have tested positive for HIV, and financially assist community AIDS orphans.
Low-Cost Mosquito Nets: To help lower the area’s high incidence of malaria, Dave collaborated with the NGO Population Services International (PSI) to provide low-cost insecticide-treated mosquito nets, 60% cheaper than those found in local stores. After discussing malaria prevention with the local community, Dave conducted two malaria awareness functions in Ntharene in conjunction with PSI, where members of the community bought hundreds of mosquito nets. In response to the high demand for these nets, he then established an easier method of delivering nets to the community by linking PSI with four local health centers. The public can now buy nets any day from these health centers rather than having to wait for a visit from PSI, and the health centers also benefit by earning a small profit with each net sold.
Energy Conserving Stoves: Dave identified a workshop that makes energy conserving stoves, and then introduced these clay stoves to the Ntharene community by having one installed at a local restaurant for the public to evaluate. After observing the fuel saving benefits of the stoves, ten members of the community then purchased and installed their own stoves. These stoves consume less fuel wood and generate less smoke than the traditional open fires used for cooking.
Bio-gas: Dave organized a trip to a local bio-gas installation with six interested community members to show them how cow manure can generate a combustible gas that can be used for cooking and lighting. He then assisted these same members with their goal to install their own bio-gas systems by linking them with local and international NGOs working in the field of appropriate technologies.
Passion Fruit: In response to another local CBO’s desire to initiate an income generation project, Dave directed the group to an organization that exports passion fruit from Kenya to Western Europe. Twenty-five of the CBO's members are now growing passion fruit on individual 1/8 acre plots, and are earning twice as much by selling to the exporter than at local markets. Encouraged by the success of this project, Dave then assisted this same CBO in obtaining and implementing a $4,035 grant for a one-acre passion fruit farm. The profits from this farm assist local AIDS orphans and people living with HIV.
Swahili: Dave achieved a conversational level of Intermediate High, as scored by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), for Swahili by the end of pre-service training. He continued to study and practice the language during his stay in Kenya, communicating at a level of Advanced Low by the end of his service.
Kimeru Manual: Recognizing the need for a book on how to speak Kimeru for English-speaking adult students, Dave developed a 36-page Kimeru self-instruction manual with the assistance of four community members. This competency-based manual is now being used by Peace Corps Kenya during pre-service training for volunteers being posted to the Meru area.