08 December, 2009

Beatrice Jahenda

Contentment: Beatrice Jahenda

Most of the women in the WEMA group have a viewpoint that things need to change in Kenya. That THEY have to change. They have ideas, insights and plans to get Kenya to the place in which it should/could be in the future. Beatrice says none of that. She says instead that 'Kenya is good' and that she is appreciative for the ARV (Antiretroviral drug) that the US provides but would not seek to ask for anything more. Her quality of life has improved drastically since she is fortunate enough to be taking them. Even after living 20 years in Kawangware she says that she never expected life to be easy and that there certainly was and would continue to be challenges. Beatrice accepts the challenges, hardships and life in Kawangware as it is for she is content to have life itself.

Rebah Nyarozo

Entrepreneur: Rebah Nyarozo

Rebah spends most of her day making the paper beads but when asked about other work she instantly sits a bit taller and explains that she has a small scale business selling ground nuts. She smiles and you can see the dignity that she gets from providing for her 8 children all alone. Two of these were her brothers, who has passed away but now stay with her and are raised by her. She tells me that before the post election violence she ran many small businesses but they were taken away. But then her face immediately transforms as she changes the subject and needs to explain to me that sometimes she gets worried when she gets sick. Often she is unable to take care of all the children and provide food, shelter and school fees. She then worries that when she dies, which she knows will come due to the infection, who will be left to take care of them. Her face alters again and a look of peace comes over her and she says 'I live longer with God, I know this' and 'maybe i start new business'.

Grace Akinyi

Perseverance - Grace Akinyi

Hired in 1997 as a health promoter for the Congo region of Kawangware, Grace still retains that title today. A hard worker, now widowed, has 3 jobs, with 6 children who rely on her and a few of which are infected with the epidemic that has taken flight in Kenya. HIV/ AIDS leaves the children to suffer, according to Grace, because of the stigma that is still attached to being infected and how it is passed. In the villages women are believed to be carriers/transmitors of the disease and often when they go to bury their loved ones in the place of their birth, their families turn their backs on them. Grace explains to me with a pause and hesitation that she believes it is this turning away of those in need, that directly relates to child labour and the prostitution that exists. Two things that no one likes to discuss or will claim exists but is prevalent and undeclared. Yet another repercussion of poverty. But Grace keeps going. She does not complain or act despondent but shares in such a way that you know in her mind there is no other choice but to persevere, hoping, knowing, that for her children it will be different.