Archive for May, 2008

Celebrating Mother’s Day at LifeSpring Hospital

May 17, 2008

To celebrate Mother’s Day, LifeSpring Hospital held its first health fair last Sunday, providing free check-ups, health education, and fun activities to local women and their families.  The women’s and children’s hospital was decked out with Mother’s Day signs, balloons, and streamers, which matched well with all the smiles from our staff and customers. 

We provided free vaccinations to children, as well as free ante-natal checkups to mothers-to-be.  Upstairs, our nurses and outreach workers manned the health fair, which consisted of general check-ups, health education around women’s health issues (including maternity and diabetes), and children’s games.

By far, the biggest hit of the event was the “portrait studio” and the free family pictures we provided our guests.  John (aka photographer extraordinaire) gave a preview of this in the previous blog entry.  Passionate volunteers were out in full force, taking family photographs, being on baby smile patrol, printing pictures, and making sure everyone was having fun (Thank you Sarah, John, Tyler, Eleonora, Theresa, and Aparna!)

While we tend to take baby pictures for granted, these are beyond the reach for many of LifeSpring’s customers.  I’m sure these pictures will be prominently displayed in their homes for years to come.  With the LifeSpring logo attached to them, this is an example of a marketing initiative that reinforces the LifeSpring brand and delights our customers.  With over 500 photographs taken, that’s a lot of smiles!

Family portraits at the Lifespring Hospital Mother’s Day Fair

May 11, 2008

Family portrait

Find more Lifespring family portraits here.

Bridging Social Capital

May 7, 2008
Throughout Kibera today, white hand-painted messages of “No more violence” and “Peace” on doors, walls and storefronts mark the emergence of a new sense of optimism in Kenya. With a peace agreement and coalition government in place, people are embracing a return to normal daily life.  But one of the greatest challenges still lies ahead: how to reunite a country that has been fractured along ethnic, political, and economic lines.

Robert Putnam defines 2 kinds of social capital: Bonding social capital links you to people similar to you, while bridging social capital connects you to people who are different (religion, race, generation). “For a modern and diverse democratic society, bridging social capital is important because, if you have a society that has tons of bonding but no bridging, you have a society that looks like Beirut or Baghdad,” says Putnam.

How do you develop bridging social capital in communities that have become highly segregated and tense? How do you restore trust in areas where neighbors turned on each other just four months ago?

Grassroots initiatives in Kenya have started the effort (most recently I heard of a group called Concerned Citizens for Peace). But ideally this effort will permeate all areas of society — peoples’ jobs, schools, housing, recreation — and be combined with efforts to reduce economic inequality in the country.  I’m reminded of a fellows’ brainstorm session with Jawad in the fall on building community at Saiban, when we used this list of 150 ways to build social capital — and I reflect on how our conversation relates to the big picture of re-untiting Kenya. For now, I have many more questions than answers –but I’m listening and learning each day, and your ideas are welcome!