This Father’s Day, we’re celebrating the many amazing dads we meet around the world every day through our work.
Frederick, from Bungoma in Kenya, is just one of them. His son, Mckline, was the first baby to be born in his local hospital after we launched a major new programme to improve healthcare in the region two years ago.
“On 4th July 2014, my wife delivered a healthy baby boy. I was very happy,” Frederick says.
Setting an example
But many parents in Kenya don’t benefit from this kind of hospital care. And in a country where one in 200 women die from causes related to childbirth, the risks of delivering a baby without expert medical care are significant.
Frederick’s family has benefited so much from the help they’ve had from the hospital that their experience is helping others in their community learn about public health services.
“Baby Mckline has set a good example to our neighbours,” Frederick says. “The fact that he is growing up healthy makes people curious.
“Many mothers come to consult my wife. They accept her advice to go to hospital whenever their children are sick, and even attend clinic when the child is small.”
The best possible start for Mckline
Now, the future is bright for little Mckline. At 20 months old, he’s happy, healthy and active, and Frederick is investing everything he can to give his son the best possible start in life.
“I want him to have a good education, so I have started saving,” he says.
“Economically, it’s not easy. He has to eat a balanced diet, dress well and celebrate his birthday like other children.”
A bright future
Right now, Frederick and his family live in a one-room home in the community market, where he runs an electronics repair business. But they hope to move somewhere quieter when they can afford it.
“I don’t plan on having other children soon,” Frederick says. “I want to focus on Mckline and give him the best.”
And Frederick already has ideas about his son’s career. “When I am doing repair works at the shop, Mckline is very keen,” he says.
“I think he will be an engineer. I wanted to be an engineer. I did not get there, but I hope my son will get there.”
Reaching thousands of families
Our health programme in Kenya, run in partnership with GSK, has so far helped 25,000 babies and 16,500 children like little Mckline.
We’ve improved services at 47 health facilities across Bungoma by renovating maternity wards, training health workers in emergency neonatal care, introducing clinical mentors and helping prevent infections.
Our Kangaroo Mother Care technique – which encourages mums to act as incubators for their newborns through skin-to-skin contact – is helping save lives. And we’ve provided solar panels and water tanks to clinics without electricity or clean water.
In the future, we plan to train more volunteers to spread vital health messages in their communities.
By Anna Emerson