Multiplying Good Health in DRC
Ngoy Mwambay Martine is a community health worker (CHW), who has been trained to respond to some of the health needs of her neighbors in Kamina, a town of more than 100,000 residents in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In an interview, Ngoy speaks with UMCOR about her life, her decision to get involved with The United Methodist Church’s Ministry with the Poor as a CHW, and what that decision has meant for her, her family, and her community.
UMCOR: Where are you from, Ngoy, and where do you live now?
Ngoy Mwambay Martine: I was born in Likasi (about 300 miles from Kamina). I grew up in Kamina, downtown, and live today in Shungu Area.
UMCOR: What was it like growing up in Kamina?
NMM: I was bought up well, but I could not complete my studies because of sickness. I have eight sisters and four brothers. My father worked for a mining company; my mother was a housewife. I was still a teenager when my father was retired. We came to settle in Kamina, where my parents started a small business. Then my father died in 1997, and my mother a year later.
UMCOR: What was your adult life like in Kamina before you became a community health worker involved in the Ministry with the Poor project?
NMM: My life in Kamina has gone through bright and dark periods. I married a man I loved and gave birth to 5 children. My husband died in 1995. Because of social instability, two of my children died. I married another man, with whom I gave birth to a child who died the same year. In my new household today, I live with three of my husband’s children. The eldest is 14 years old, the second 8, and the youngest 3. To support our family, my husband sells meat at the market place.
Ministry with the Poor
UMCOR: Why did you decide to become a community health worker?
NMM: I observed what the other CHWs were doing in my neighborhood for the community, and I was so attracted to that service that, in 2009, I decided to engage as a volunteer too. I received some briefings about the work. Later on, I started attending formal trainings related to the different tasks we were assigned. The following are the things I learned in different trainings: How to feed Infants and children; how to take care of infants; how to treat, handle and keep water safe; family planning; hygiene; and sustainable farming techniques.
Of those trainings, one of the most helpful was learning the proper way to feed infants and children: I took what I learned to my own daughter. She did not know how to feed her baby. After I trained her, the baby became healthier, and this impressed my entire neighborhood.
Another very helpful training dealt with how to treat water: Since I started boiling my drinking water, there are no more cases of waterborne disease in my household.
UMCOR: What do you do as a community health worker? How do you put to use the things you learned in your CHW training?
NMM: As a CHW, I am in charge of the following: Raising awareness for vaccinations and for pregnancy medical checks; giving vaccines during the campaigns; and doing some medical surveys.
I always start by implementing my training in my own household before I go to teach my neighbors and community members. That way, I can share my own stories and experience with them.
Fruits of CHW service
UMCOR: How do your husband and children feel about your being a CHW?
NMM: They are happy with me. They encourage and support me. Because of my being a CHW, my own daughter now knows how to nurse and feed an infant, and how to take care of the baby. This also has an impact on my neighborhood.
UMCOR: Can you tell us a short story about someone you helped or an activity you engaged in as a CHW that you feel good about?
NMM: In my neighborhood, there is a young lady who did not know about family planning. Her name is Charlene. She had two children within 14 months. I approached her and taught her how to nurse and feed the elder baby, as she was still pregnant. Today, I am so happy to see that both babies are healthy. And I taught her about family planning, so as to avoid this case in the future.
UMCOR: Has being a CHW changed the way you see things in your home or community?
NMM: I have always been a housewife. Being a CHW provided me the opportunity to attend the [UMCOR Sustainable Agriculture & Development] farmer field school, which has proven that sustainable farming is a reliable source of well-being. So I have decided to become a very committed farmer.
So, being a CHW, I serve both my household and my community.
As I have seen the harvest of the group farm, I now dream of practicing intensive farming, from which I can purchase iron sheet and improve my house.
UMCOR: Is there anything additional you would like to mention?
NMM: Thank you for the trainings that have been organized for the benefit of our households and communities. Thanks to the donors who support this program.
I hope the trainings will continue and address other issues important to the communities.
For more information about The United Methodist Church’s Ministry with the Poor, please visit www.ministrywith.org. To learn more about UMCOR’s Sustainable Agriculture & Development (S A &D) program, click here. Your gift to Sustainable Agriculture & Development, UMCOR Advance #982188, supports programs such as the farmer field schools Ngoy finds so valuable.