Stories

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Indopu Nasilele

Indopu is 10 years old, and is the middle child in the family with one brother and one sister. He attends Chitanda Basic School in Matero Township and lives with his family in a two roomed rented house. His father is unemployed and his mother has a small shop at the marketplace.

Both his parents are HIV positive and on treatment. Indopu tested positive in 2010 and started taking ARVs in June 2011. Before starting ARVs he had to visit the hospital frequently as he had consistent high fever and pneumonia At this time, Indopu is very good about taking his medication on time, he did not experience side effects from the medication and his health is stable. He loves going to school every day and is doing well at school.

Amon Mukenga

Amon lost both his parents to AIDS and AIDS related infections. He lives with his grandmother who looks after 5 other orphans. Amon's grandmother got him tested for HIV by the University Teaching Hospital in September 2011, as he was suffering from prolonged ear discharge and diarrhea. Amon tested positive for HIV and since his CD4 count was only 44, he started ARV medication soon after.

Amon's grandmother sells vegetables for a living and is able to send Amon to school with support from her relatives. His grandmother is appreciative of the food, medicines and care received since Amon joined our pediatric HIV/AIDS care program. At this time, Amon's health is stable and his weight and CD4 count have increased since joining our program.

Faiza

Faiza is 9 but looks much younger. She triumphed over TB at a very young age but constant poor nutrition and neglect left her underdeveloped, sickly and nonverbal. Her mother is mentally ill and social services intervened. Faiza has been at Baobab 3 years and is now a different child. She talks, attends preschool and loves her siblings dearly. Although not academically inclined she has a terrific sense of humor and helps her younger siblings to behave.

Baby Paul

In July 2006 a two week old baby was brought to Matthew Rusike Children’s Home when his young unwed mother was not able to care for him. Two weeks later Cindy met this little boy while visiting Matthew Rusike Children’s Home for the first time. So tiny and vulnerable, Cindy fell in love with Baby Paul. Mercy had taken him into her care along with the 9 other children she cared for in one of the houses at MRCH. Mercy often cooks meals for outside visitors as well as her own housefull of children, so while she was busy preparing sadze and greens, the staple of Zimbabwean meals, Cindy would take care of Paul. To hold Paul one needed to have a towel underneath him as he had no diapers at the time. We understand that Paul’s birth mother was HIV positive, however, during labor she had access to the drug which has a high success rate of preventing the child from contracting the HIV/AIDS virus. We are hopeful that Paul did not contract the virus.

Through Matthew Rusike’s program, Paul has been nurtured and cared for with love. He now attends the crèche or pre-school at Matthew Rusike. Cindy still has a very soft spot in her heart for this little boy whom will always be to her, “Baby Paul.”

Sabra

Sabra is 8 and was brought to Baobab an emaciated 5 year old. Her mother was bed ridden having had a tree fall on her and Sabra's grandmother treated them both with cruelty. Baobab sought treatment for Sabra's mother but it was too late and she died. Baobab fought social services to be allowed to take Sabra in, knowing that her grandmother would never follow the strict medicine regime and she would die. Sabra is now learning English at the school located at the orphanage and in good health. She wants to be a teacher and have one child, a daughter.

Keneth

Kenneth was abandoned at a chruch at 5 months old. He was brought to Baobab orphanage sad and distressed from neglect. We received him with love and named him after Ken Russo, a donor to the orphanage who has lived with HIV for 28 years. Kenneth is almost two now and thriving. He has skin problems but is getting excellent care and has 12 loving brothers and sisters who don't care at all about his HIV status, they just love him for who he is.

Nancy Nasambu

In 1966 I was born into a family of 4 children in Mombasa. I was raised by my mother and unfortunately due to hardship, missed the opportunity to attend school. I was forced to get married at a young age by my father who later passed away early on in my life. In 2002, my husband died, leaving me alone, HIV positive and stigmatised.

I have found myself widowed and childless. My in-laws claimed all family assets leaving me with nothing. I was to the desperate point of eating soil for nourishment.

I was referred to AMPATH after suffering numerous health issues. In November 2006 on my way home, I found a newborn baby crying, abandoned in a bush and wrapped in a plastic bag! With the help of neighbors, I helped the baby fight for his life. I was later awarded full custody after search for the biological mother was ceased by officials. The joy in my life is my son Isaac.

Valerie Ochola

I was born in 1972 in Kisumu town, Nyanza Province. I enjoyed my childhood with my 5 brothers and 2 sisters, but lost 3 siblings along the way. I attended school up to secondary level but my parents could not afford further education.

I moved to Eldoret in 1993 and worked in several supermarkets for a period of ten years. I got married in 1996 and had 3 children. Tragically, my first born girl died at only one day old.My husband and I discovered our positive HIV status after the birth of our second child. Since then we have struggled but have come to terms with living with HIV. I am one of only a few women who have not been rejected by my husband and, happily, we remain a family unit.

I joined Imani Workshop in 2007. I worked in the clay department. I did not realize that I had artistic talent. I continue to work hard and develop my style. Despite a rough start in the program due to health challenges and hardship, I have shown tremendous dedication and remain thankful to Imani for stabilizing my work and my life.

“I did not imagine I could become an artist. When given a canvas I feel motivated and encouraged to aim higher. I really appreciate the opportunity of being a member of Imani Artist Collective. I feel inspired and the art flows through to the end of the creative process.”

Mary

I am Mary Wamboi and I was born in 1973 in Huruma. I sustained a serious leg injury in my youth, but I was the first-born and am the breadwinner. I attended school up to Standard 8 and am still responsible for my younger brother who continues his studies.

I am HIV positive and knew my status in 2005. I was in Nyayo Ward at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and on my way to death. However I was treated successfully, put on a nutrition program and referred to AMPATH's Family Preservation initiative in 2006. I gained part-time employment in the pottery department at Imani Workshops.

I have 2 children, a 20 year old daughter and a 16 year old son. I am single and live in Eldoret. My home was burnt down in the post election violence, and I am a former Internal Displaced Person (IDP). I now rent a house after being employed by Imani. I am doing well and a successful applicant of the Imani Artist Collective in February 2009. I would like to do more art. Thank you because I was thinking that being HIV+ is the end of my life but I thank God for artists to come and teach us more and more.

“When I start to search for a picture to paint my emotions feel busy and my head fills with ideas. Sometimes, when I feel sad or tired I am not in the mood to paint. Oil paint can make me crazy like I am drinking alcohol! But the same paint inspires me.”