Taking care of yourself and the people around you

Three years ago, I got the opportunity to use international marketing skills to help communities in need. The Making More Health Team asked me to help create a training and exhibition room at the Atapadi Hospital in Kerala, India. At the hospital, we saw how everyday accidents are a critical issue for local people, especially for children. In response, we initiated safety training workshops in cooperation with the Karl Kübel Institute in Tamil Nadu, South India.

I was pleased to see the participants’ enthusiasm in learning how to prevent dangerous situations in their daily lives. Based on the positive outcomes in India, we started a similar program in Kenya last November. With local NGO partners, we identified challenges and risks for people in rural communities and slums in Kenya. For example, the safety of school infrastructure is poor and traffic accidents claim the lives of 13,000 people per year. I remember thinking “we have to do something to reduce this devastating situation.” So focusing on school and traffic safety, we developed training manuals, posters and safety quiz cards for local schools and health care organizations.

In workshops for school children, we now teach how to avoid accidents on the way to school and on campus. We also are currently working to train school safety officers who monitor for bullying, sexual abuse or other risks of violence. Additionally, for adults we created a specific training manual on vehicle and traffic safety as well as how to ensure safe working conditions.

The program has been well received, and the Gouverneur of Bungoma County expressed his gratitude when Manuela Pastore, global lead of community activation for Making More Health, introduced the safety awareness program at the end of last year. With help of the AMPATH, we initiated training courses at our “Making More Health House,” mainly for people with albinism but also for school children. In a next step, the program will be expanded to a slum area in Eldoret.

“The support of the local stakeholders to ensure a regular implementation of our activity plan is given, but not enough. So, we are now looking for other partners and platforms at Boehringer Ingelheim and outside who could help to roll out the safety materials … I am very proud being one of the ‘early intrapreneurs’ for our program in Kenya.”

Klaus-Dieter Eckert