Vunja Kalabash Program (VKP)

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The negative health behaviors are contained in a calabash, which although wide in the bottom, it has a narrow ‘mouth’. If something big gets stuck in the calabash, it has to be broken, to get to the bottom!

So, realizing the increased psychosocial challenges facing the youth, like those in institutions of higher learning, it is important to break the Kalabash, towards a holistic, all-inclusive education approach.

“Invest in Holistic University Education Today; You change Different Corners of Kenya; You touch tomorrow’s professional and Leader,” (Kagunda, 2018).

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is one of the highest forms of psychosocial challenges facing students in institutions of higher learning.

However, as much as SGBV is one of the leading psychosocial challenges facing youth, it cannot be addressed in isolation. VKCP comprehensively addresses SGBV and its link to increased substance abuse, sexual reproductive health issues, and suicide.



The VKCP includes identifying and training a core set of popular opinion leaders (POLs) inclusive of students and administrators that seek to change social norms and promote positive health behaviors. The POLs are trained through a series of skill-building activities, which include mentoring, counseling, social media, lobbying, and mobilization skills. These skills help them as they become VKCP ambassadors in their universities.

These early adopters recruit additional students and administrators and through an informal train-the-trainer model, they teach newly recruited POL’s skills to change social norms and promote positive health behaviors. 

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Community Approach

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Psycho-social issues affecting children, youth, and adults prevail at the community level, which are linked to increased mental health challenges.

Religious leaders in Africa, like pastors, are recognized as key opinion leaders at the community level. Together with other community leaders like elders, teachers, and Community Health Volunteers, Elim trust build their skills to address psychosocial issues in their communities.


The trained JVKP ambassadors use local structures like churches, mosques chief baraza and other community forums to address these issues. They adopt primary schools within their region and work with adolescents’ girls and boys.

Some of the communities that have benefitted from the program include communities in Nairobi, Rift Valley province, Northeastern Kenya and Central Province.

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