The Living Positive Project for women has been in operation since 2005. It started with the main objective of supporting poverty stricken women and especially those infected with HIV/AIDS to live meaningful, dignified and productive lives.
This project started with a group of five HIV+ women and today the group has grown into total of 88 HIV+ women. In addition to the main group we also have another open group of women who are affected by the HIV scourge in one way or another. The main objective is to provide community care to women who are HIV+ so that they can be free from pain, humiliation and indignity. Furthermore the objectives include the supporting of people living with HIV/AIDS who have courageously declared their status to educate themselves and share their knowledge with the community on issues concerning prevention, care and stigma.
Since then the group has come-up with other activities of skills development like making greeting cards and other handcrafts. At the moment we are starting with a few new projects for the women, which include the keychain making and baking courses. We are still looking for volunteers who would help to come up with other skills that would be used to generate income for the women.
Today 36 women offer social support to each other in difficult situations and meet once a week to learn HIV/AIDS issues and have group therapy sessions. They are all attached to different health facilities that offer free HIV/AIDS treatment. Even though the ARV treatment is free in Kenya, the women are quite often struggling to find the money for the transportation to the hospital when they need to go for their medical check-ups or pick up their ARV drugs. Most of the women are on ARV treatment and are doing well.
The group however faces some challenges that hopefully will be able to overcome some day soon. These include: lack of food nutrients that are required for people with their condition, enough capital to sustain the basic family requirements, enough market for the hand crafts, a proper administrative capacity to cope with the developing group activities.
Beth’s story is a good example of the difficult situation that the project women are in:
Beth was born in central Kenya. She is the fifth born in a family with 13 children. Due to the lack of finances she dropped out of primary school and became a house girl. She got married in the age of sixteen and got five children. Her husband died in a road accident after which she moved to the Ngong Matare slums to stay with her sister and involved herself with prostitution like all the other women folks. She later dropped the habit and became a devoted Christian. Beth visited a clinic last year and got to know her HIV status. She does not know or understand how she contracted the disease, but it must be the few years she practised prostitution. She goes to the Coptic hospital for her medical check-ups. Her CDH count is still high, so she is not on an ARV treatment yet.