25 May, 2010

Violet Lupisia

Faithfulness - Violet Lupisia

Violet herself is not infected with HIV but is a caregiver for those in her family that are. Her face alters from a shy smile to that of seriousness as she explains the importance of faithfulness. 'It is important to be faithful.' Immediately what comes to mind is that she is referring to her family but as i ask her to further explain, she states clearly and without hesitation that for those that do not have this disease they must not get it. That was the first thing. Many people die from HIV because of a lack of faithfulness to husbands and wives going outside their commitments. In addition to that those in Kenya are suffering. The gap between rich and poor is increasing, discrimination due to tribal group, rise of HIV/AIDS and repercussions of the post election violence are only some of the reminders to her of unfaithfulness. Her face changes again and she smiles and laughs saying that the answer to these things are simple and i am old enough to know that. All of Kenya would be taken care of if we would all just remain faithful. To one another. To our families. To our government. To our faith and to what we know to be right and wrong. The answer is simple.

Mariselina Kageha

Free-spirited: Mariselina Kageha

For 38 years Mariselina has lived in Kawangware. She has seen it change politically, geographically, religiously and economically. This mama is unique. Not only is she the oldest mama in the group but she is the most outspoken. She constantly is talking, cracking jokes and trying to make everyone laugh, revolt against the government and chanting to bring back Moi or Kenyatta. But as we drink our chai, Mariselina states that she needs to tell me something. She shakes her head as she speaks of the change in Kawangware over the last few years. Before the post election violence neighbours/people were friendly to one another but now they are enemies. Kenyans used to help each other, there was grace if you couldn't pay your rent. Neighbours would pitch in and help one another but now everyone feels as if they are on their own. But this group she explains to me are sisters and are changing things back to how they were. They not only help each other emotionally and spiritually because they see each other every day but are also able to help out financially if need be. She takes care of 12 people besides herself and is proud of this accomplishment but says that she could not do any of it without the support of this group. She pauses and looks me in the eye then exclaims 'Bring back Moi!

Judith Yomba

Judith Yomba


Born in Kawangware, Judith has 5 children that she supports along with her husband. She has been HIV positive for the last 11 years now and often worries about tomorrow and what will happen to her family when she has passed away. She says 'it is life' and she is right. Most of the women in the WEMA (goodness) group are infected themselves and are the sole providers for their families. But she tells me that although she worries she is still encouraged. Her eyes crease on the corners as she smiles and takes out a letter that was written by her 9 year old daughter. The letter, written for a school project, exclaims that when she grows up she will become a doctor so that she can cure her mother. Judith says her daughter has good marks and could very well be a doctor and that she will do everything she can to keep her in school. She is determined that her little girl will live a different, healthy, more desirable life than her. There is no hesitation when she says this because there is no doubt that the outcome of her life will be favourable.

Jane Muthoni

Peacemaker: Jane Muthoni

Jane is driven to mobilise and empower those in Kawangware through the message of peace. The hope she sees for Kenya, for Kawangware and for herself lies in not getting back into the condition they were in during the post election violence. 'We are trying to put the broken pieces back together from the grassroots to the national level.' She speaks of peace not only to other women's groups but in churches as well and sees conflict as a way to keep the country in turmoil. She puts things into perspective as she describes those less privileged than herself and how she is called to help them in whatever small way she can. Jane, in our western standards, would be considered underprivileged or poor, but believes strongly that peace has to take root in her first before it reaches all of Kenya and by reaching out a helpful hand to someone in need, is one more step closer to the peace process.