BE Stories

We opened an office in the heart of Khlong Toei

Together with Dr. Alisra Tatakorn (Division of AIDS, TB, and STIs, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Health Department) and Khun Kobkoon Chuntrakool (Head Nurse Healthcare Centre 41), we opened an office in the heart of Khlong Toei on this year’s World TB Day. We chose to be close to those who are most in need. We wanted to create a meaningful meeting place for our community health volunteers and peer health educators, as well as a convenient location from which we could further shape our prevention interventions and organise our activities in the community. We are neighbouring Khlong Toei’s Healthcare Centre 41 with whom we collaborate since 2014. Cooperation between us is vital to achieve our common objectives: protect Khlong Toei’s population from tuberculosis and HIV and promote health.

Social protection for Khun Suthin

Khun Suthin fell ill with tuberculosis seven months ago and lost his job in the harbor nearby his neighbourhood in Khlong Toei. He went to the Kluaynamthai hospital, which is though far away from his home, and was diagnosed with TB. He properly started his medical treatment, but without income, he soon was unable to pay for his transport to the hospital to get his daily medication. The number of his visits to the hospital decreased gradually, until he couldn’t go any more. Too poor, too weak and without enough food, he was unable to move and, at only 49 years old, he lost hope in the future. Khun Aksorn, our community health volunteer in Khlong Toei met him for the first time at his home in December last year. She met a desperate man, who just wanted to die. But this was not mentioned in Khun Aksorn’s agenda, and she decided to take care of him. She took him to Khlong Toei’s Healthcare Centre 41 and he is now back under medical treatment since six weeks. We ensure him social protection until his full recovery and will follow-up on him so that he won’t withdraw from his medication a second time. Healthy again, he will be able to find another job, take care of himself and support his 74 years old mother.

Street kids in Djibouti

More than 1100 homeless kids live in the streets of Djibouti, day and night. Most of them come from Ethiopia by foot and in small groups, lots without parents who pushed them onto the street because there were no resources to look after them. Others simply believed that Djibouti could offer them a better future. They sleep on the beach or near a disused railway station and manage to survive during the nights in a ruthless world. Without any form of identity, they have no right to exist and have no access to schools or healthcare facilities. So they live unprotected in the streets and are exposed to mainly three calamities: physical assault, glue sniffing and sexual abuse. Violence is never far off. Fortunately, some of those kids find their way to Caritas-Djibouti. This organisation shelters in average 80 children per day between 08:00 and 18:00 by offering food, hygiene and literacy and sport classes. Within these protecting walls, street kids are allowed to feel being a child again. In collaboration with Caritas-Djibouti, our peer health educators facilitate health workshops for these children, in particular to raise awareness about HIV and other communicable diseases.

Meet our new peer health education coordinator in Djibouti

Houssein Youssouf has been a successful peer health educator since the start of our programme in Djibouti. Dedication towards the most vulnerable people in his community drives him, while raising awareness about the many new cases of tuberculosis and HIV in his community has become his fully-fledged objective. As of the 1st of November, Houssein now organises and coordinates BE Health’s team activities at Djibouti Palace Kempinski and in his team’s local communities. During the coming year, Houssein and his team will address TB and HIV questions among their colleagues, as well as in high schools, in collaboration with Djibouti’s Ministry of Education. They also will facilitate health workshops with Caritas-Djibouti which takes care of more than 80 street kids every day. Houssein and his team know that clear communication and education will contribute to stop the transmission of Tb and HIV in their country.

Witnessing peer health educators’ work in Djibouti

Observing peer health educators’ work in the community and understanding the challenges they meet was in Henk Meyknecht’s mind when he accompanied them on 25 July during one of their raising-awareness sessions in Djibouti. As Kempinski’s COO Middle East and Africa and member of the management board of Kempinski Hotels, he knows that it isn’t easy to openly talk about HIV and sexual behaviours in traditional communities. “I find it personally very brave for the peer health educators in Djibouti to go out and meet people in public areas or community centres to discuss health topics which are very personal and intimate, and often very sensitive.” But Henk also admits that there is a strong need for increased levels of information and education as lots of people are still not aware of the health risks related to TB and HIV. “What I witnessed that day clearly confirms the value of the peer health educators’ work and we must raise additional funds to extend the positive impact of BE Health’s programme in Djibouti”.

Together with the entire team in Djibouti, we would like to thank Henk Meyknecht for his deep interest and thoughtfulness for our work and outcomes. It’s simply inspiring.