Kenyan Nurse's Dream Comes True through the Leadership Development Program

 {Photo credit: MSH}Gertrude Kinyua shares her vision at the LDP results workshop in Nairobi in September.Photo credit: MSH

"I had always wanted to start a community gender based violence outreach program as a link between Kenyatta National Hospital and the community," says Ms. Gertrude Kinyua, a Senior Nursing Officer/Sexual Forensic Nurse at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). That was Gertrude’s unrealized dream for a long time, until she participated in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) offered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Leadership Management and Sustainability (LMS) Project in Kenya.

The LDP is a six month program developed by Management Sciences for Health that strengthens the leadership and management capacity of people at all levels. Over time, the LDP process can transform how people use “leading and managing practices” to achieve the desired results. The LDP is anchored on four leading practices and four managing practices. The leading practices are: Scanning, aligning and mobilizing, focusing, inspiring while the managing practices are: planning, organizing implementing, monitoring and evaluation. Participants are introduced to these practices and trained on their application over the six month period.

On September 18, 2013, at the program’s concluding results workshop, Gertrude made a presentation on how, through the LDP, she had been able to act on her longtime dream and make it a reality. She recalled how during her 28 years at KNH, she had taken care of and seen many victims of gender violence pass through Kenyatta National Hospital. What she always wondered, watching these victims walk away from the hospital, was whether these individuals had anyone to share their pain with, and whether they had any social support. This gave her the idea to form a support group/outreach program that would bring the victims together. 

The idea remained, however, just that, “an idea” for over 10 years, because Gertrude felt she needed to gather all the required financial and material resources before beginning, and she also wasn’t sure where or how to begin.

Gertrude started participating in the LDP in March 2013. After completing the first and second workshops, where she was introduced to the concepts of the leading and managing practices, Gertrude began to realize that she could actually start implementing her idea. In her words:

The LDP gave me the conviction that I did not need to wait until the day everything was in place–money, support etc. Leadership and management skills were enough!

Armed with this conviction, and the knowledge of how to align and mobilize stakeholders and resources around a team or individual vision, which she was learning through the LDP, she approached the local Public Administration/Chief of Kibera slum area in May 2013. She presented her idea to him and he was very supportive. Still applying the leadership practices, she approached her colleagues whose skills and expertise she knew would be assets for the outreach program. She discussed her idea with them and they were willing to work with her. Applying another leadership practice known as scanning, she identified some of the gender violence victims and presented the idea to them. They were excited about it and they were willing to be part of the group.

The Kibera Community Gender Based Violence Outreach Program is now operational with 20 regular members. Gertrude’s team from KNH includes a social worker, a psychologist, a nurse and a medical doctor. Together they meet with the community members where the victims share their experiences and support each other while at the same receiving expert advice from the KNH team. This has enabled the victims to regain their confidence and to once again become active members of the community. The group is currently planning to start some income generating activities which will go a long way to improve their standards of living.

Wawira Munyi is the program manager for the Leadership Development Program on USAID's Leadership Management and Sustainability Project in Kenya. She is based in Nairobi.