Beldina Opiyo-Omolo is the founder and director of Alice Visionary Foundation Project (AVFP) in Kisumu, Kenya.
AVFP is a NGO with the vision of improving the quality of life of impoverished western Kenya communities through education, food security and poverty alleviation. The organization was founded with the mission of caring and supporting vulnerable groups infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which struck Kisumu and its environs particularly brutally. In partnership with WomenStrong International, AVFP has since established an Urban Women Empowerment Project, to deliver a comprehensive array of programs and services aimed at enabling participating women and girls in the informal settlement of Manyatta to realize and capitalize on their full potential and that of their families. Building on previous work with the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI), to maximize its impact, AVFP and WomenStrong have expanded their programming for Manyatta women and girls, with a focus on health and protection, education, financial literacy and livelihood skills. Strategies include:
– Establishing and facilitating Girls’, Teens’, and Mothers’ Clubs, to strengthen literacy, financial literacy and advocacy skills;
– Providing further training for approximately 100 trained Urban Community Health Workers in the Group Savings & Loan methodology and, through this vehicle, in neonatal and maternal survival, violence prevention and hygienic, environmentally sound living;
– Expanding the existing number of Savings & Loan groups;
– Introducing community-based training in urban farming and clean energy utilization;
– Supporting the implementation of integrated slum upgrading and women-focused livelihood projects developed by Columbia University architects/urban designers.
Beldina has extensive public health and community development experience, having worked for 5½ years as the Public Health Specialist for MCI – Kisumu, where she supported the administration of the City of Kisumu, the Kisumu County government and countless local and international partners in expanding and strengthening public health support for the City and the residents of Kisumu. Beldina was responsible for carrying out research on public health needs, neonatal survival, health facility capacity and in other areas affecting individual and community health. She and her team have also organized numerous direct interventions focused on improving public health and gender equity by supervising the establishment of four cervical cancer screening centers; setting up and leading Girls’ Clubs, Teens’, Mothers’ Clubs and financial and entrepreneurial training for women; establishing community savings groups; and by facilitating the training of all Manyatta school teachers, administrators and parents in the care, handling and positive disciplining of their children and students. Beldina has also worked in selected informal settlement study sites to carry out a poverty-related household survey and to work with the community in improving local infrastructure, livelihood opportunities and access to quality health care, education and water/sanitation services.
Prior to joining MCI – Kisumu, Beldina worked as a Program Manager for a non-profit in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where she helped create a regional system of HIV/AIDS-related prevention, care and housing, to provide a continuum of HIV-related services in a six-county region in northeastern PA. She also worked with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services; the Sussex County Department of Health – Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, in Sussex County, NJ; the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in Harrisburg, PA; and at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, as an Adjunct Faculty of Health. She worked as a training supervisor at a behavioral health residential treatment facility for adolescents, where she helped develop trainings in such areas as recognizing, improving and strengthening boundaries and therapeutic interactions for employees and clients.
Beldina is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.; an American Red Cross Certified CPR/First Aid/Disaster Preparedness and HIV/AIDS Instructor; and a Certified Monitoring and Evaluation Professional. Since 2000 she has been a member of the American Public Health Association and the Society for Public Health Educators. Beldina is the mother of two children (Caleb, her 12-year-old son, and her five-year-old daughter Alice).
Read more about what motivates Beldina and how she began doing this work [here](https://www.womenstrong.org/stories/153-beboldforchange-beldina-opiyo). And listen to Beldina talk about AVFP and how she came to found it here: