MMUST researcher, Dr. Rose Opiyo, has once again taken the lead to equip children’s caregivers with skills in the established iHELP centres supported by her project. This was recently exhibited during a two-day Training of Trainers workshop held on 21st and 22nd April 2022 at the Idakho Central Centre in Ikolomani Sub-county. The aim of this training was to equip caregivers with diverse skills in responsive caregiving and income generation activities to ensure sustainability of the project. This informative workshop was officially opened by the Associate Dean, School of Education, Prof. Kennedy Bota.


Dr. Rose Opiyo (Seated, second from the left) and Associate Dean, School of Education, Prof. Kennedy Bota (Seated, third from right together with participants at the training workshop.

iHELP is a hybrid of Home Based and Centre Based ECD models which caters for all children including those with disabilities. The training was facilitated by Mr. Steve Ikonya and Ms. Martina Adega who took the participants through various aspects related to responsive care giving and income generating activities. They stressed on the need to come up with a routine in the Centres to guide children daily activities.

 ihelp273Participants during group discussions

 Speaking during the workshop, Dr. Opiyo noted that the project is set to ensure proper upbringing, children stimulation, safety and good nutrition to all children including those living with disabilities.

“We have had a productive session with the project advisors. I want to appreciate the duo for the great work they have done to empower the caregivers and centre managers on responsive caregiving,” said Dr. Opiyo.

Mr. Martin Shivachi, one of the community members who attended the training attested to the massive impact that iHELP project has had on the community. He noted that the inclusive aspect of this project has ensured that children living with disabilities get equal opportunities.

“With this kind of training, caregiving will not remain to be mothers’ responsibility but a collective role to both parents. This project should be overblown to the national levels to tap into these resources. I urge you to take this knowledge to the community,” added Mr. Shivachi.

ihelp274A presentation by community members at one of the sessions

His words were echoed by another workshop participant who is also one of the iHELP center managers, Ms. Grace Ndiva who appreciated the MMUST researcher for endeavoring to support the Isulu community through the project. Additionally, Ms. Ndiva reiterated that they have learnt on responsive feeding, caregiving, proper nutrition and income generating activities which will certainly improve the livelihoods of their children.

Some of the topics extensively addressed during the training included ‘Myths and Misconceptions Affecting Responsive Caregiving’, ‘Characteristics of a Responsive Caregiving Environment’, ‘Provision of Inclusive Care in the Community’, ‘Competencies of a Caregiver’, ‘Changes that Occur During Various Developmental Stages of a Child’, ‘Identifying When There is any Form of Developmental Delay During a Child’s Growth’ and ‘Early childhood Development, Nurturing Care Framework.’

ihelp275iHELP project Caregivers during a group discussion.

 This comprehensive training has left caregivers and centre managers fully equipped with skills, knowledge, values, attitude and resources to ensure effective management of the Centres.  The project is set to create learning platforms for the community. This will help to build the capacity of caregivers and deepen collaborations in a bid to achieve the objectives of the program.

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology prolific researcher Dr. Rose Opiyo has championed for the sustainability of the iHELP project through mobilization of stakeholders from diverse institutions. This was during a stakeholders’ workshop that was conducted on 2nd March, 2022 at Bishop Nicholas Stam in Kakamega County. The workshop drew personalities from various institutions including Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD)County Government of Kakamega, Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies (BRESS), Community Centre Managers and Project Advisors.

The workshop was graced by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Solomon Shibairo who applauded Dr. Opiyo for seeing the need to bridge the existing gap in Child Care by rolling out the project to support needy communities. He assured the participants that MMUST is ready to support the project to ensure its sustainability.


The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Solomon Shibairo giving his remarks at the workshop.

The Director, International Relations and Academic Linkages Dr. Catherine Aurah, who represented the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Planning Research and Innovation, Prof. Charles Mutai, reaffirmed that indeed the project has put MMUST among the Universities that touch lives.

In her remarks, Dr. Aurah, appreciated all the stakeholders for participating in the event,  stating that the iHELP project is a very important initiative since it is geared towards supporting young lives. “This project is bound to provide quality education and care giving of our children. It is also in line with the Competency Based Curriculum therefore I urge you all to support the programme,” stated Dr. Aurah.

Speaking during the workshop, the Coordinator, Webometrics and Short Courses, Dr. Dennis Ochieno encouraged the research team to digitalize the project by creating a profile on the University website. This will increase the visibility of the project and create more linkages. 

The Chief Child Protection Officer- Kakamega County, Ms. Yvonne Atsenga pointed out that the County Government has set aside funds to put up a caregiving centre in collaboration with MMUST to nurture early childhood education and responsive care. “We have set aside funds to establish a child care centre that will support MMUST young mothers in nurturing their children. We also plan to establish other Child-friendly centres that will house needy, children living with disabilities and street children. Further, the County Government will carry out capacity building to mothers and caregivers,” she added. Ms. Atsenga expressed delight about the project, saying that she is ready to support the children living with disabilities that have been identified in the iHELP Centres.


A section of the workshop participants.

According to the iHELP Project Advisors, Ms. Martina Adega and Mr. Steve Ikonya, there is a need to train mothers and caregivers on how to make children play and learn using equipment from the locally available materials such as bottle tops. They stressed that a business plan should be adopted for income generation and economic sustainability. The duo also emphasized on the importance of strengthening referrals to health experts especially for children with disabilities. “I urge managers of respective Centres to break existing barriers among children to ensure their safety and comfort. There is also a need for developing, monitoring and carrying out children assessments to enable early interventions,” encouraged Ms. Adega.

The Director, BRESS Ms. Elsie Shisia pointed out that diet diversity for children should be upheld for sustainability of the project. She advised that kitchen gardens be developed in all the Centres.


The Principal Investigator, Dr. Rose Opiyo addressing the stakeholders.

Notably, the well-attended workshop highlighted key aspects that should be implemented to ensure sustainability of the project. Some of the significant recommendations made at the workshop included leadership training across all iHELP Centres, stakeholder mapping and engagement strategy, training caregivers on responsive caregiving, development of disability friendly manuals, nutrition specific follow-ups, networking, parental engagement and male involvement especially for children with disabilities.

MMUST’s iHELP project Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Rose Opiyo has spearheaded training on material development at iHELP centres in Ikolomani Sub-County. The training has been going on from 28th February to 2nd March, 2022. Dr. Opiyo who is a lecturer at the Department of Educational Psychology at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology led the intense training focussing on learning and playing tools for children under the age of four (4) years. The goal of the activity is to prepare and familiarise parents with skills to enable them understand school set ups and train them to support their children before they start school.

Speaking during the event, Dr. Opiyo emphasized on the need for active involvement of parents in the play and learning development of their children.

“Parent involvement in the child’s development creates a positive experience for children and helps them perform better later when they enrol in school. It is therefore crucial for parents to support the learning that happens in preschool settings at home as well as child care facilities. This also establishes a connection between what the child learns at school and what takes place at home. This connection is a key component of a child’s development,” said Dr. Opiyo.

MMUST3        Material development at Central iHELP centre

She encouraged the parents to use the readily available household items, recycled objects and other natural materials to develop the playing and learning materials.  Parents must also show interest in participating in their children’s creative play, learning and development.

The Chief Executive Officer, TajiZuri Foundation Ms. Martina A. Adega together with the Founder, Reenie Tender Beginnings Day-care Ms. Irene Otieno took the parents through the step-by-step development of various materials. The play and learning tools include picture reading, puzzles, stacking blocks from cut plastic bottles and papier-mâché. The items were developed using waste papers, used plastic bottles, bottle tops, cello-tape, scissors, manilla papers, glue, food colours, water colour paints and brushes.

Ms. Adega commended the parents for the positive attitude towards the exercise and willingness to learn. “Introducing educational materials and physical activity toys to children at an early stage of their development enhances their senses, social skills, self-confidence, independence, creativity and imagination, builds emotional intelligence, improves concentration and most importantly boosts problem solving skills,” she noted.


Parents participate in crafting the play and learning materials.

Ms. Otieno echoed Ms. Adega’s sentiments saying that children love to explore and they learn new things at a very early stage in their lives especially through playing. She urged parents to master the skills and to encourage children to celebrate their victories by displaying every work they complete because it boosts the children’s self-esteem, intellectual and motor development.

Parents were also advised to use bright colours when creating the playing tools to attract the children’s attention, adopt the ‘known-to-unknown’ teaching method while following the child’s lead, encourage and praise the children even when they give wrong answers to keep them motivated and boost their confidence.  Additionally, parents and caregivers were asked to engage the children in activities such as singing, dancing and games that would allow them to work together, take turns and celebrate each other’s success.

Notably, with support from MMUST, project donors and well-wishers, women in the respective iHELP centres were mentored to set-up self-sustaining businesses that will generate income and help them cater for their needs and those of the children.  Businesses such as butchery, grocery kiosks and a canteen that serves both the community and the childcare centre have been established. Other centres are still in the process of brainstorming business ideas they can engage in.

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology Scholar Dr. Rose Opiyo, who is the Principal Investigator of the iHELP project, conducted a three-day intensive health and nutrition assessment of children enrolled in various established iHELP centers in Ikolomani Sub-County from 19th - 21st January, 2022. The aim of this project is to roll out home-based Centres to increase opportunities for Children to access Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).

Speaking during the event, Dr. Opiyo reiterated that she is committed to see the Centres transform the livelihoods of the communities and ensure the Centres provide the children with the best education foundation. “I am pleased that this project has picked up well and the community is embracing it. We are keen in supporting the parents economically to ensure sustainability of this project. I look forward to having more children enrolled and enjoy the many services iHELP is offering to them,” she added.

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Dr. Rose Opiyo, children and parents at Central iHELP centre.

The Chief Executive Officer-Tajizuri Foundation’s nutrition expert Ms. Martina Adega, assisted in carrying out various assessments on the children. Some of the key examinations carried out included growth monitoring (weight, height and Mid Upper Arm Circumference), oral hygiene, health talk to mothers and high impact nutrition intervention where they administered Albendazole (ABZ) and Vitamin A.

All the three iHELP Centres have picked up well and there was a good turnout of children and mothers during the exercise. The surrounding communities of the Centres have welcomed the initiative and have shown massive support towards the development of the centers. The current estimation of children enrolled in the Centres are as follows; Umoja centre in Idakho South- 35 children, Central centre in Idakho Central- 50 children and Cardinal centre in Idakho East- 32 children. These numbers depict the community's good will since all the Centres have been in existence for a period of just two months.

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Ms. Martina Adega examining a child.

Notably, in every centre, children with disabilities were among those assessed and this portrays the inclusive nature of the project.  Various interventions and follow up mechanisms have been designed to ensure they are well attended to. The three-day event was also attended by MMUST staff, Ms. Doreen Kathure and Mr. Zadock Maingi, who also played a key role in the assessment of children and offering responsive Caregiving education to the mothers as well as caregivers in the respective Centres.

The Centers’ visits revealed that a lot of training should be offered to the children's caregivers to reduce chances of infections among the children. Additionally, Ms. Elizabeth Misiko, one of parents at the centre, attested to the great support she has received from the centre since the time she enrolled her daughter into the centre.

The iHELP project will certainly boost the health of the children involved in the project and change the livelihoods of the residents in Ikolomani. The initiative is open to any other donors that wish to support it.

 IMG 3396

Dr. Rose Opiyo addressing parents during the event