Josephine Awuor comes from Malanga sub location of North gem. She is a widow aged 33 with 4 children all of whom are in school. Her husband passed on in 2002. She starts her story, “In 2006, I was very ill and was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. I decided to undergo HIV testing and was also diagnosed HIV+. I was angry and confused and did not know what to do. My children however were a constant reminder that I needed to live in order to fend for them hence I got hold of myself and started taking medication”. Josephine enrolled with North Gem HIV/Aids project in 2013 and the project has supported her with medication especially for opportunistic diseases. Before joining the project her CD4 count was only 50 and body weight 40 Kgs but currently her CD4 count is 450 while she weighs 62 kgs. Through the project she has joined a support group called Masasi which brings together 30 people living with HIV. “Listening to their stories is very encouraging and when I need emotional support I turn to the group. With the other members we started table banking and currently have Kshs 30,000 (Euro 263)”. Josephine and members of her group were trained in establishment and management of small business. Her group is now involved in event management as an income generating activity where they have chairs for hire.
Josephine received a grant and boosted her already small business in the neighbourhood. She now sells vegetables, fruits and cereals. She now earns Kshs 6,000 (Euro 53) monthly up from Kshs 2,000 (Euro 18) before joining the project. She adds, “I am able to repay the loan on time and am happy that my children have prospects for a bright future. I am more informed on issues of hygiene, adherence and nutrition and I will always encourage other people living with HIV to be strong and join support groups since they provide psychological support. They should also work hard and be involved in economic activities. HIV should not bar anyone from having a meaningful life. I have also learned about improved farming practices and I am putting that knowledge into practice. This season I expect a good harvest”.
She concludes, “I am thankful for the project and will always encourage other people who are HIV+ to live positively”.