Contributions by Claire Rotich | Written by Hannah Bain
The Story of Claire Rotich
Claire Rotich grew up in Kenya and previously worked on promoting conservation methods, activism, civic engagement, and social justice in Kibera. She learned about CFK after moving to North Carolina and re-connecting with an old friend.
After attending the Imperial College of London for her undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, Claire moved to North Carolina to pursue graduate degrees in global public health and clinical informatics at Duke University. Motivated by a desire to improve access to high-quality healthcare using an interdisciplinary approach informed by context and enabled by data, analytics and technology. She met her husband at Duke and decided to stay in North Carolina after completing her degrees.
Claire, who works as a data analytics consultant in the healthcare industry, has always explored opportunities to connect her passions: health equity, youth empowerment, data and analytics, and, her homeland Kenya. She learned about CFK’s mission, through a conversation with Francis Kibet, a family friend and CFK’s current Board Treasurer who also resides in North Carolina. The conversation sparked Claire’s interest, and her desire to learn more only intensified after reading It Happened on the Way to War, a memoir by CFK co-founder Rye Barcott that chronicles CFK’s origins. The book, and, a follow up conversation with Executive Director, Hillary Omala about the programs CFK was running with the community resonated with her. A few months later, she began serving on CFK’s Board of Directors.
“I liked that CFK was driven by the community, for the community from the very beginning by the late Tabitha Festo,” Claire said. “The organization has worked hard to earn community trust, and I respect that greatly.”
Serving on the Board throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Claire has witnessed firsthand the essentiality of strong, local leadership. She has been impressed by Executive Director Hillary Omala’s efforts to protect the staff and community throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and she believes that his engagement with national strategy teams is a testament to the strength of CFK’s leadership.
Using Data to Drive Purpose
With a scientific, data-driven background, Claire advocates for CFK’s commitment to using evidence-based methods to inform, strengthen, and center interventions.
“The organization’s Best Schools Initiative (BSI) is a very interesting example of using data to drive purposed interventions,” Claire said. “Hopefully, the program will make education more accessible and help move children out of the circle of poverty.”
Led by Education and Livelihoods Program Coordinator, Jeffrey Okoro, the BSI is a data-driven initiative focused on improving student attendance and success in Kibera’s informal schools. Based on a participatory development model, the initiative has worked with the community to identify barriers to student success and develop tailored interventions to address them. The BSI is currently testing and evaluating the impact of its interventions to determine which ones most effectively improve student attendance and success.
Long-term sustainability & expansion
The first time Claire met with Rye, they talked about the future of CFK and what it would look like for the organization to achieve its mission. After serving on the Board of Directors for over a year, Claire believes that CFK has the potential to expand its strategies and programs to additional informal settlement communities and provide a replicable framework for organizations working in similar areas around the world.
“CFK’s ultimate success would be to not be required in the community anymore,” Claire said. “We want to see interventions and facilities such as Tabitha Medical Clinic and the BSI become embedded into the community, organically replicated and sustained by the community so they are not reliant on external donations or grant funding. To do that, we need to build an economy within CFK programs that supports, expands, and withstands the economic shocks that affect the rest of the country. CFK’s evidence-based methods inform, strengthen and center on interventions that support this long term vision ”