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Saturday, 27 May 2017
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My name is María, I’m Spanish and I’m 30. I’m not in a stable relationship nor do I have kids, maternal instinct hasn’t knocked at my door yet, and I’m not sure it ever will. It’s something that doesn’t bother me, I have time to decide whether I want to be a mother or not. A few years ago I had an abortion after getting pregnant because I didn’t use any birth control methods. Since then, with the advice of my gynaecologist, I have tried different methods until I found the most convenient one for me.

If we add a letter to my name and I become Mariam, the story changes. I was born and live in Kenya, although that is not significant, since there are stories like mine (or even worse) all over the world. A few years ago I was married and, as it is set out, my husband and I tried to have children. But it was not possible, I did not get pregnant. And of course it all pointed to me having a fertility problem. But I never knew for sure because my husband never allowed me to go to the doctor, and even if he did, I would have had to travel many kilometres and pay a huge amount of money for a gynaecologist to see me. Impossible for me... In addition, every month I had such terrible period cramps that I couldn’t go outside nor go to work as normal. Eventually, my husband left me because I couldn’t have children.

I am Mariam too, I’m Kenyan and I’m 32. I’m married and I’ve been pregnant seven times, although I only have three kids: a 9-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy and a baby that was born a few weeks ago. I have always had problems during my pregnancies and, unfortunately, many of them have gone wrong, since I had several miscarriages in the early months of gestation. No doctor has ever told me why these pregnancies went wrong, I don’t know the causes of those miscarriages, not even if they could have been prevented… Since I could not afford a specialist to examine me and see if I had any problems, I still do not know what caused the multiple miscarriages. Besides my three little ones, I gave birth to two babies, what a surprise! I had no idea I was pregnant with twins, they never told me in any of the pregnancy check-ups. But, of course, how would they tell me if they just ran some blood and urine tests. When I gave birth at Lamu’s public hospital I was very scared, the doctor was sleeping while I had to give birth to my two babies on my own. I thought it had gone well but within a few hours the twins died… and I still do not know what the causes were or whether there was anything that could have been done to save them because nothing was ever done about it, no examination or anything of the sort. And that was all...

Yes, they do sound like the plot of a novel or a movie, a dramatic plot, the kind that leaves you with your stomach all tied up. But they are not, I wish they were!.

These two Mariam do exist.

And Fatuma, and Esha, and Nailois, and Khadija, and Madina...

And many other women

What if you were one of them?

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Health and access to quality health care are universal rights. Theoretically they are, but as with many other universal rights, not all the members of the population can exercise them in the same way: if access to health services is in itself a violated right and even non-existent in many countries and continents for the general population, it is even worse for women. We are invisible in this unequal world we live in.

There are thousands, millions of women who cannot make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health or about their overall wellbeing in terms of women’s health. Others do it for them.

To be a mother or not, giving birth in safe conditions for the mother and the baby, going to the gynaecologist, using some kind of birth control method, abortion with health guarantees, monitoring pregnancy… Seems basic, right?.

For them it isn’t.

When your social and family role is based on bringing children into the world without control or planning of any kind, when using a birth control method to prevent one pregnancy after another becomes an odyssey that you must hide from your husband, when at the age of 12 someone mutilates your genitals so that you can’t enjoy sex, when in your town there is no gynaecologist you can see periodically or punctually, when talking openly about sex is a taboo, when going out with a man implies that he will become your husband, when going to an specialist means investing a big portion of your salary… When all that happens…something is wrong and we must act in favour of women’s rights.

Today, May 28th and International Day of Action for Women’s Health, we must not forget about all of this, it is a day to start taking action.

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At Afrikable we are already taking action. We are committed to women and their empowerment in all areas of their lives. In order to achieve this in the health area, we are building the Maternity Home, a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health centre where, in addition to providing training and awareness workshops on a variety of topics, women of Lamu will receive free and quality gynaecological assistance and give birth with health guarantees both for them and their babies.

Every day the right to quality health services becomes more of a reality and less of a utopia on the island of Lamu. They deserve it as much as we do.

So that the fate of being born here or there doesn’t determine our rights and become an unbridgeable gap, take action!




Author: Marta Heredia | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Thursday, 25 May 2017
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Jambo! Jambo! We are Isa, María and Arantxa, three midwives who landed in Afrikable a month ago to collaborate on the Maternity Home.

Over the past few weeks, there have been many experiences that have surprised, enriched and challenged us and have brightened the smile of the women and children who welcome us every day at Afrikable.

One of the activities we enjoyed the most was the sexuality workshop given to teenagers. With a somewhat apprehensive but receptive start, we gathered ten teenagers with whom we talked about STDs, HIV, unwanted pregnancy, and safe and responsible sexuality, in a framework of laughter and games where trust and engagement grew exponentially. .

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At the end many of them left with their doubts resolved, clearer ideas and the door open to continue evolving as confident and empowered people. It has been a pleasure for us to share time and confidences with them, adding it to the list of unforgettable experiences in Lamu, a list that luckily hasn’t ended...


Authors: Arantxa Merino, María Rami and Isabel Fernández | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Friday, 07 April 2017
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It’s April already, months go by and Magret is back at Afrikable after her maternal leave with little Sangale. She is very happy because in the end her delivery went well, although she stills remembers the moments of terror experienced when she had to give birth on her own at home, in front of her other two kids aged 2 and 3. Fortunately Afrikable’s Maternity Home will open its doors very soon and we will be able to prevent these risk situations for mothers and babies.

Months go by and the second phase of the project, the gynecology ward, is practically a reality thanks to BCG’s help. We have already used half the funds they offered us and as soon as we get the other half in June, the consulting room will be ready.

But that’s not all... thanks to Proyecto Esperanza help that decided to focus all its actions this year on supporting the third phase of the Maternity Home Project, alongside all the support received from the proceeds of the Volunteer Holidays draw, all events held, concerts, occasional donations, members and many more, we are about to make the maternity ward a dream come true within a few months. We still need a little push, but we will get there!



What sets the Maternity Home project apart from other projects we have launched, besides the aim itself, is that it will become a reality thanks to the participation of hundreds of people who have supported us by buying 2.5 euros tickets or people like Eva, who is mobilising the staff at the hospital where she works in order to get hospital furniture, which is essential to put the clinic into operation :)

A thousand thanks to everyone, to all those hundreds of people who have contributed in one way or another so that every day we get closer to seeing this dream come true.

Do you want to be one of them?  #EmpoderaLaVida   Collaborate! 


Author: Lola Serra | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Tuesday, 20 December 2016
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Can I be an actor of change? We often ask ourselves this question and Paula knows the answer well, she decided to enjoy last August a solidarity holiday in Afrikable. Here she met the project and the group of women who form it, she verified that their empowerment s a living reality and day to day we have to work to maintain it.

Paula said "I can act to bring about change" when she met our dream, the construction of a Centre for Reproductive and Maternal Health. She works at BCG a company that though its Social Responsibility program and its commitment acts for the improvement of society, she puts us in touch with BCG and we were able to accede to the campaign "BCG Colabora", being one of the projects selected this year.

Thanks to Paula and BCG our future dream is our present and within a very short time we can enjoy in Afrikable a new Gynaecological Consultation in which we plan to offer free care to more than 200 women a month, in quality gynaecological assistance, follow-up of pregnancy and training and sensitization on Women's Health issues.

Thank you BCG for your confidence and for collaborating with the empowerment of women in Lamu.


Do you want to be an actor of change?  #EmpoderaLaVida   Collaborate! 

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Author: Lidia Jimeno | Translator: Sheila Castro

Saturday, 10 December 2016
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We follow this new cycle of workshops with a very specific training directed just at pregnant women working in Afrikable. The recommendations of care during pregnancy, the importance of an adequate diet and nutrition at this stage, and the follow-up of gestation by health professionals are the topics that have been addressed.

Fatuma, Magret and Mariam, each at a different time of pregnancy, have been able to share their concerns and contrast their lifestyle during gestation with the recommendations they have received.

While many of these tips have been a mere reminder, since the use of ample clothing and comfortable footwear is something that all women do in Lamu, other aspects are more complicated to integrate into their way of life: avoiding to carry weight on an island full of women bearing children on their backs and bales of firewood over their heads is a difficult goal to achieve, as well as ensuring a few hours of sleep and rest when the engine of homes and families are them, who rise at dawn to go for water to the well, cook and attend to the house before going to work.

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It happens the same when we approach the nutrition during pregnancy, because the little variety of food that is here and the economic situation of the most families prevent that the diet of the pregnant women will be as rich and varied as possible. Thus, we have adapted as much as possible, and according to the dietary possibilities that Lamu offers, the diet of Mariam, Magret and Fatuma.

The pregnant women working in Afrikable receive a lunch to ensure that their food is as balanced and complete as possible under the free soup kitchen project. To this lunch, rich in iron as legumes and vegetables, and in proteins present in fish, a daily egg and orange will be added to increase the protein supply and to facilitate the absorption of the rest of nutrients, respectively.

We have explained to this girls the importance of adapting, as far as possible, their diet to their state, since all of them have stated that they eat the same thing when pregnant that it is not. Thus, and knowing the key foods to acquire the necessary inputs during gestation (legumes and vegetables to gain iron, egg, meat and fish to get protein, and citrus to facilitate absorption), the challenge is to become aware of the importance and impact of food and to adapt the menus of their dinners and weekends to their state.

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At this point, it is also important to speak of religious practices linked directly to food. During the month of Ramadan, pregnant women are not required to practice fasting, but social pressures are often stronger than the awareness of one's own health, which causes pregnant women to fast throughout the month, with serious consequences that this can lead to both the mother and the baby. This is a controversial aspect and difficult to approach, which needs a continuous work of awareness, because religiousness has a lot of weight and governs the daily life of Lamu.

Finally, we have emphasized how fundamental it is to take control and follow-up of pregnancy from the moment they are aware of their condition in order to avoid and foresee future complications for the baby and for themselves. The key is to raise awareness of the importance of this monitoring and to foster confidence in the health services offered by these services to come to them.


Author: Marta Heredia | Translator: Sheila Castro

Thursday, 08 December 2016
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In order to continue with the continuous and transversal development of Maternity Home's first phase of formation and awareness this month we began a new cycle of workshops related to the general health of women, to the maternal health and to the sexual and reproductive rights with the aim of taking a step forward in achieving empowerment in the area of women's health in Lamu. Throughout this month, a wide range of workshops will be given to local traditional women and midwives by the hand of Esther Pérez, a nurse from Barcelona who has arrived in Afrikable ready to do her bit on the way to the empowerment of women.

Having already taught several workshops and talked on wider and more general issues, such as HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, first aid or family planning, in this new cycle, workshops dealing more specific and directly related to sexual and reproductive health of women.

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We started with a very basic training and at the same time fundamental to settle the contents and knowledge of the following workshops: an anatomy workshop, aimed at all the working women of Afrikable, in which we have reviewed the male reproductive apparatus and, above all, the female one, and we had explained in detail the processes of fecundation and gestation, as well as the phases of fetal development. The knowledge of the functioning of the body itself and the processes that are developed in it are the best tool for the empowerment of women in aspects such daily and important as the acquisition of appropriate habits for optimal development of the foetus or prevention of risk behaviours during pregnancy.

Once again, the need for this type of training has been evidenced, since the nervous laughter, the questions and doubts of the girls, and their faces and screams of surprise have revealed the ignorance on these themes and the importance of fomenting and to provide information and training of this kind on an island where female sexuality is taboo and where women's rights are far less a priority.


Author: Marta Heredia | Translator: Sheila Castro

Sunday, 16 October 2016
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We’ve received the first donations for the new Afrikable project, the Maternity Home and along with it comes hope and expectation of a healthier and fairer future for women in Lamu.

Last Friday we placed the first stone for the reproductive and maternity center for women in extreme poverty and risk of social exclusion. It was a very special moment because this project that we have been working on and that so many women need is now a reality.

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For the second phase of the project we need to collect €15.000, and during the first two weeks of the project we raised €1.100, which allowed us to start building the center.

There are many people involved in this project, many hands and hearts that want to turn this dream into a reality, and that is just beautiful. Did you know that with only €5 we can buy 20 stone blocks?. Every small donation is a great impulse for the project. Join and collaborate!

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You can also participate in one of the many events that we’ll have, or you can also organize one, are you up for it?.

On October 22nd we’ll be in the first GBike Festival organized by the Altafit de Talavera gym. That weekend we’ll also participate in San Fernando Social Economy Fair, in Madrid. No plans for the weekend? Come and join us!

On October 31st we’ll be celebrating Afrikable’s 7th anniversary with a Jazz concert with Walking Jazz Ensemble in Honky Tonk in Madrid… Great plan that you can’t miss! Mark it on your calendar!

There are many more events: two solidary marathons in Cádiz and Córdoba, a couple of concerts, a solidary indoor cycling event, and even a magic event! If you’d like to organize a solidary event in your city to contribute, you can contact us by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I’d like to thank everyone who is collaborating and trusted in us from the beginning and supported the project, the new partners and those who help us keep Afrikable alive, so that many women can have a decent life.

Asante sana!

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Like Galeano said:
"They are small things. They don’t end poverty, they don’t stop underdevelopment, they don’t socialize production or change means, they don’t expropriate Ali Baba’s caves. But maybe they unchain the joy of doing, and turn them into acts. In the end, to act according to the reality and change it, even a little bit, is the only way to prove that reality is transformable."


Author: Lola Serra | Translator: Celi Pecorelli

Sunday, 31 July 2016
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Fatuma Jarso has recently become a mum. She gave birth in her house, as nearly every other woman in the project has. The baby is okay but she is hospitalized because the labour got complicated, and she is undergoing a strong haemorrhage. From the heart, we truly hope there is not any other complications and for her to get the discharge.

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In the bed next to Fatuma’s, there is a woman that has just given birth to twins, and one of them has unfortunately not been able to make it through the labour. The girl in bed on the other side has to be operated due to a vagina deformation after the complications in her last labour.

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The fact of being a woman means having an added risk in the developing countries, and Kenya is not an exception. It is estimated that, in 2015, over 300.000 women died both during pregnancy and while they were giving birth or after it all over the world. Moreover, for every woman dying when giving birth, a dozen undergo either an injury, or infection, or illness.

Most of maternal deaths are either caused by haemorrhages, infections, dangerous abortions, and preeclampsia (serious hypertension with convulsions), or due to complications because of pre-existing illnesses that get worse during pregnancy. It is quite obvious that both the lack of a suitable medical assistance and the high cost of the services are key factors which determine the woman’s and baby’s survival.

When a mother dies during labour, the child left orphaned is much more likely to die in the next two years after her/his mother’s death.

Maternal mortality rate in Kenya is very high, for the figures collected by the WHO (360 deaths out of every 100.000 births) only take into account the births in hospitals, being Kenya a country where only 44% of the births is assisted by suitable nurse staff. Lamu is one of Kenya’s districts with the highest mortality rate in the whole country (676 women die for every 100.000 births). The difficult access women have to sources and healthcare services, as well as the lack of suitable infrastructures, are the origin of this situation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has committed to support the fast reduction of maternal mortality by 2030 as a part of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

From Afrikable, we want to contribute to this goal by launching a Reproductive and Maternal Health Centre in order to be able to provide women with a quality assistance service that is accessible and suitable for all the women who need it.

The great majority of maternal deaths would be prevented if women had access to quality family planning health services, appropriate assistance during pregnancy, birth, and the first month after delivery or assistance after abortions. This is the reason why, in Afrikable, we have started a first stage of training and awareness, through family planning, health, first aid, and HIV workshops, as well as other topics related to sexual, reproductive, and maternal health, for both women in general and midwives.

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In future stages, we will cover gynaecological needs, support during pregnancy, and in the last stage we will assist in labour in order to be able to stand behind women’s rights in regards to reproductive and maternal health, thus providing women with a complete assistance and empowering them in every aspect of their lives.


Author: Lola Serra | Translator: Sara Vivarelli



Afrikable is a Spanish charitable organisation, registered in the National Register of Associations under number 1/1/594088 and in the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID)'s Register of Non-Governmental Organisations under number 2033.


In Kenya our association is called Afrika Able Organization and is registered with Kenya's NGO Coordination Board under number 10976.


  • Lamu, Kenia.
    Madrid, Spain
  • +34 605 722 162