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Published: April 2, 2024

Euniter Adoyo: equal compensation advocate and no-nonsense leader

No one cheered louder than Euniter Adoyo when Kenya’s President made the formal announcement in October 2023 that every community health worker (CHW) would receive a salary for the crucial role they play in the country’s health system. Euniter was first a CHW and then a supervisor for 10 years before joining Lwala full time as a program assistant in the Mothers and Children Program in 2022. She won the Community Hero Award with Blood Water Mission in 2020, and the Best CHW in the County for Lwala in 2021. Her work was exceptional and necessary, and still, she was one of 100,000 CHWs across the country who have provided health care without pay for decades.

What this new national law meant for Euniter and other Lwala-supported CHWs was a salary paid by government versus the stipend plus supplies, uniforms, and commodities provided by Lwala. It also meant being recognized and valued for the work she did to provide direct care at the household level, and in training other CHWs in standards of excellence. The CHW model significantly lowers the overall cost of health care for the country of Kenya, but no longer would it do so on the backs of free, majority female, labor. The years of advocacy required to get this bill passed could be heard in Euniter’s cry of celebration when the announcement was made.

Euniter was born in Homa Bay County. Her father was a teacher, and her mother was a business woman. After high school, she got married and then attended the University of Nairobi, Kisumu campus, where she obtained a certificate in Guidance and Counseling. She started working at Lwala Community Hospital in 2010 as a nurse’s aide, but after three months she had to leave to work with her mother-in-law.

During this period Euniter developed a passion for doing community work. “My mother-in-law was a retired nurse’s aide, and people would come to her for care. She had so much knowledge, and I learned from watching the way she worked with people. She didn’t have the capacity to test people properly, so she would treat without testing. I developed passion and caring for people experiencing health issues, but I knew I wanted to do it differently.”

In 2012, Euniter came back to Lwala, and for a decade, worked as a trained CHW, carrying a client load of about 70 households. In recent years, she was trained as a CHW Advocate, received her certificate, and included advocacy training as part of her supervision of other CHWs. “Euniter commands respect from the CHWs she supervises and is a no-nonsense leader. She isn't afraid to speak her mind,” Dennis says.

Euniter’s current role in Lwala’s Mothers and Children Program has her working to monitor, improve, and expand health services. During her career at Lwala, she’s consistently taken on more leadership roles, and she brings a unique legacy with her: first, you develop trust and confidentiality; then you test and treat. “Working with Lwala has made me a better person because they capacity-build me as a professional by continuing to offer training opportunities. I know what I’m doing when I’m with a client or a colleague. And this is valued–by my clients, by Lwala, and now, by the government of Kenya."

Agency, health, and wholeness of life.

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