In Memory of Jayne and Bella.
Jayne and Bella were passionate about bringing child life supports to children with retinoblastoma and other cancer in Kenya and across Africa. They died on board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 on March 10, 2019, while returning from the International Society of Paediatric Oncology Africa Congress in Cairo.
Jayne Kamau (left) and Bella Achieng (right) attended the SIOP Africa Congress in Cairo, just days before they died. They are pictured with Dr. Doreen Mutua from Nairobi, who was not on flight ET302.
With shattered hearts, we share the news that our wonderful, beautiful Child Life Specialist, Jayne Kamau, was on Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 to Nairobi that crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday March 10, 2019. There were no survivors. Our strongest advocate of child life for retinoblastoma in Kenya has died.
Alongside Jayne on the flight were our bright stars Isabella Jaboma Achieng ( “Bella Jb”) and Dr. Grace Kariuki. They were all returning home from the International Society of Paediatric Oncology Africa Congress in Cairo. Jayne and Bella had both presented on psychosocial supports for the child and family during intensive cancer care. They had networked to expand take-up of child life supports, and were enthused to return home and continue the work for which they had such great passion.
Our hearts ache for Jayne, Bella and Grace’s families, colleagues and friends, and for the communities they served. Especially for all the children and families for whom they were such a vital member of the medical care team.
Words cannot express how utterly devastated we are by the loss of these three dedicated ladies who died serving the children and families they cared for so deeply. They will be profoundly missed. May their souls rest in eternal peace, and may God provide comfort to all who loved and mourn them.
Who Were Jayne, Bella and Grace?
Bella, presenting at SIOP in Cairo.
Jayne, in Cairo with her poster on child life supports for babies and children with eye cancer.
Jayne was a child life specialist at the Sally Test Child Life Program of Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. She was dedicated to maintaining and growing the program as a sustainable model for Africa – led and fully staffed by Kenyan professionals. Her infinite capacity to bond with others on a human level made her an exceptional child and family support professional, as well as a respected advocate, trainer and mentor. WE C Hope has been honoured to work with Jayne since beginning our child life training to ensure effective supports for children with eye cancer in Kenya. We were so proud to count her among our first child life specialists to be fully trained and qualified in Africa.
- WE C Hope Blog: Jayne Kamau, My Friend and Colleague
- Association of Child Life Professionals: Jayne Kamau In Memoriam
Bella was a treasured member of the family at Hope for Cancer Kids, Kenya, where she was Family Support Co-ordinator for children receiving treatment at Kenyatta National and other centres in Nairobi. She was enthused by child life and our brightest hope for transferring sustainable Kenyan-led child life services from the Sally Test Child Life Program at Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital to Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi.
Dr. Grace was working with the Ministry of Health on many initiatives to improve cancer care in Kenya. In particular, she was collaborating with paediatric oncologist, Dr. Jessie Githanga, on a study to document the cost and cost effectiveness of childhood cancer treatment – vital work to improve care access for families who lack immediate or complete health coverage, and who struggle with the financial burdens of critical cancer care.
Continuing Jayne and Bella’s Legacy
Jayne worked with the only sustainable child life program in Africa. The program at Sally Test Pediatric Center at Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital and Moi Teaching & Referral Hospital in Eldoret is led and fully staffed by Kenyan professionals who have been trained and qualified entirely in Africa.
WE C Hope began working with Sally Test in 2008 to make vital child life supports a reality for children with eye cancer – and ultimately other children who receive care at the hospital. From her first connection with the initiative, Jayne was our most enthusiastic Kenyan leader and advocate of the cause.
All of the child life training, mentoring, certification and continuing education in Kenya has been facilitated by WE C Hope Child Life Director, Morgan Livingstone MA CCLS CIMT. Like our entire WE C Hope team in the UK, USA and Canada, Morgan works entirely in a volunteer capacity.
This video was generously produced by University of Indiana media students visiting a partnered health program. It shows the very important work of the child life team, including Jayne, who is the first person to speak.
Morgan had most recently been working with Jayne, Bella and their colleagues on the pathway forward to expand sustainable child life from Eldoret to the childhood cancer ward and retinoblastoma ward at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.
We don’t yet know what the new pathway will be without our delightful, talented, passionate friends. But as we work together through this immense tragedy, we will find good ways forward for Kenyan child life, for Rb and all childhood cancer. We will recover and grow stronger, in a way that celebrates the sparkling souls we have lost.
If you believe in the work Jayne and Bella were doing, and you would like to help ensure its development, we would very much value your support in their memory.
Thank you so much!