Jane Otai

When Jane Otai walks through the Nairobi slums of Korogocho and Viwandani, she is no stranger. No stranger to the women living in corrugated-metal shacks or worse, no stranger to the poverty, overcrowded conditions and health problems devastating families. “I really lived within the urban slum growing up, I am a product of this community’’ says the 47-year-old mother of three. “My mother saw education as the way out. She believed if one got educated, we can break out of the cycle of poverty.” Following her mother’s advice, Jane attended Makerere University in Kampala and got her master’s degree from United States International University in Nairobi. It wasn’t until she finished her education and started a job that Jane had children. She credits access to family planning as the reason for her success. “Because somebody told me about family planning very early I was able to take it up and be able to space my children and delay my first pregnancy. And that is the reason I am here," said Otai. When Jane talks to mothers from Korogocho about the health of their families, the threat of HIV, the importance of family planning, the need for good nutrition, she speaks from experience – personal and professional. Everyone calls her Jane. When she speaks, people listen. When she encourages women to get involved in their community, to take control of their health and seek help for their families, they do so. As part of the Gates Funded and Jhpiego led Tupange urban health initiative, Jane has worked to provide women access to family planning, prenatal care, HIV counseling and testing, screening for cervical cancer and sexual abuse, immunizations and sanitation just to name a few.

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