• Social Innovation Fellowship

Award Year 

Sigida Keneyali Health in our Homes

In Sikoro, one of the poorest slums of Mali’s capital, one in five children are killed by malnutrition and easily treatable disease before their fifth birthday. Sigida Keneyali is grounded on a simple concept: instead of paying high clinic fees for essential health services, participating families will trade three “action fees” for free maternal and child health care in the home. Action fees include voting in municipal elections, working unskilled shifts in Sikoroni’s clinic, and participating in community clean-up days. This summer, I worked closely with 12 community health workers to design our program and prepare for the start of home visits. We enrolled 250 mothers in the program, conducted a baseline health survey, and negotiated contracts with Sikoro’s clinic and the Regional Health Director.  By providing high-impact rapid referral and preventative care, Sigida Keneyali will address the preventable roots of 90% of child death in Sikoro.                       


Personal Statement

Working with the Mali Health Organizing Project was a transformative introduction to the rip-roaring world of young, innovative NGOs. As Hawa Gaku (my Malian name), I was once more a two-year-old – stumbling over Bambara phrases, hopping around town in a bright orange poncho, delighting a lovely banana-and-antibiotics-selling lady with Akon lyrics (which she knew a lot better than I did). And yet, as a two-year-old, I was entrusted with a degree of real-time responsibility that rocked me to the core and was the greatest challenge of my life. I partnered with Soukeina Ouattara, the sassiest, strongest woman I’ve ever seen, and her tragic death from malaria at the end of the summer was a profound loss to us all. She will live on through her life’s work – a journey to bring high-impact health care to Sikoro.