Meet Maureen Karimi Muketha, the 21 year old Kenyan involved in Beyond Zero Malnutrition.
Maureen is an undergraduate student studying Human Nutrition and Dietetics and she spends her spare time helping under privileged communities in her society as well as volunteering at the Kenyatta National Hospital. At the hospital, she works as a teacher at the pediatric cancer ward and a particular passion of hers is how diet relates to cancer prevention.
She focuses her energy on working towards her dream - that children in all communities are able to perform to the best of their abilities by ensuring that they are well nourished.
Maureen tells TBTM that she found her purpose by creating awareness about the dangers of malnutrition and the effects it poses, especially on children and youth. She strongly believes that there is no better way to make her difference than to put her knowledge to use by sharing it with others.
The campaign “Beyond Zero Malnutrition” has set a goal of achieving zero malnutrition in Kenya as well as reducing the instances of cancer which is partly attributed to poor eating habits. They work towards this goal by organising and conducting activities such as nutritional health talks and de-worming children. Tackling over-nutrition is also a listed as one of their goals as it leads to obesity and the myriad of associated health deficits.
Maureen's campaign has lead to communities appreciating and being more conscious of the value of good nutrition and tying to incorporate her teachings into the meals they consume. The campaign has also resulted in more children visiting clinics for regular checkups, hence assisting in the early detection of stunting due to malnutrition and allowing time to try preventative measures.
Future plans for the campaign is to grow it into an NGO and expand to various areas in Kenya. Maureen also hopes to build the brand in schools and ECD learning institutions to help them understand the importance of serving younger patients, especially those under the age of 5.
Maureen tells TBTM that her advice for anyone who wants to make a difference is to start now. She advises change agents to not wait for funding to start but use whatever resources are available and get started on their project. She adds that being a changemaker is all about consistency and determination to achieve your goals that will ultimately benefit others. She acknowledges the tediousness of the task but suggests that concentrating on one goal can be really effective in increasing your impact.
Maureen is one of the mentors in our Hand Up Programme. If you are inspired by her story and want to make your own difference, join the movement or sign up to our Hand Up Programme and get mentored by her or someone like her.
*Images courtesy of Maureen and the Mathare Foundation