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Help women with HIV in Kenya live Life to the full

AJAN appeal – Part 3

Imagine you can’t pay the rent, let alone your children’s school fees. You don’t even have money to buy food. You’d love to work but there is simply no opportunity to do so.

Then you find that golden opportunity: a vocational training course; a sort of cooperative, where you can produce and sell things together; a small loan to set you on your way, to actually start your own business.

Your life is transformed… from barely surviving, you start to live your life, to look after yourself and your children and to plan for the future with hope. Patricia, Peris and Beatrice know what it feels like – they’ve been there. And they have added disadvantages: all three women are HIV-positive and struggling to bring up their children singlehandedly in very poor settlements on the outskirts of Nairobi in Kenya.

The women found the chance they needed in projects supported by the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN), thanks to UNESCO-Kenya funding, namely Uzima in Kangemi and Mirror of Hope in Kibera.

“I started working in beads two years ago and I’ve gained many skills in bead art creation. When the beads are sold, I pay the rent for my place and save in a self-help group, where I can also apply for loans, which helps me to pay school fees for my two children,” says Peris Muthoni. Peris is a member of Uzima, a programme for people with HIV run by the Jesuit parish of St Joseph the Worker in Kangemi.

Beatrice Kemuto has a similar story to tell: “I praise God for bringing me to Uzima because I’ve learned how to make bars of soap, which I thought were made in factories. We divide the bars amongst ourselves to sell. One day I would like to open my own factory at my rural home and show others how to make bars of soap.”

And that’s not all: “I’ve also been helped to start a business: I go around, visiting people in their workplaces and houses, selling clothes. The business is doing well and I am looking for a place where to keep my stock. The profit has helped me to save, to buy food, to pay the rent and school fees.”

Having her own little business is Peris’ dream too: “If Uzima could help me buy bead materials for my own business, I’d really appreciate it.”

Over in Kianda, part of Kibera slum, 50-year-old Patricia Waeni was hard pressed to survive before joining Mirror of Hope, a community-based organization. A widow with five children and eight grandchildren, Patricia was diagnosed with HIV in 2002 and has since been doing her best to live positively.

With Mirror of Hope, Patricia learnt new skills such as soap and bead making and basket weaving. She says: “For a long time I’ve admired baskets made from polythene paper but I never imagined I’d be able not only to make the baskets but to sell them as well.”

The proceeds from her work have enabled Patricia to change her lifestyle for the better. She can now afford three meals a day and balanced meals at that. She’s also paying her house rent promptly – previously a big challenge.

What’s more, Patricia has been able to help send her grandchildren to school. She’s even managed to save some money and dreams of opening her own grocery store.

“Our clients are really interested in income-generating activities because they are strong, living positively and determined to be self-reliant,” says Elizabeth, the Uzima social worker.

All the women need is a bit more help to keep them going, especially to buy raw materials for their products, and perhaps even to set up their own small business. In all, Uzima and Mirror of Hope support 50 women in their income-generating activities – you can join their efforts by buying some of the tools and materials needed to make:

15 polythene baskets

Crotchet hook

2 euro

Papers

60 euro

Lining

11 euro

Zips

4 euro

25 bead necklaces

Tigertail beading wire

9 euro

Hooks

10 euro

Clay beads

53 euro

Giriama beads

27 euro

Other beads

22 euro

20 bead purses

Purse pockets

13 euro

Purse beads

36 euro

Fish line & thread

10 euro

Simply decide how much you’d like to contribute and let us know when making your donation that you’re helping to produce the beautiful handicrafts made with love in Kangemi and Kibera.

To donate online, please click here

To donate via cheque, please send it to African Jesuit AIDS Network, P.O. Box 571, Sarit 00606 Nairobi, Kenya

To donate via bank transfer in euros, please use the following details

Account name: AFRICAN JESUIT AIDS NETWORK
Account number: 659 189 0039
Bank: Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd
Address: Mara & Ragati Roads, Upperhill
P.O. Box 30437 G.P.O
00100 Nairobi, KENYA
Bank Code: 07000
Swift Code: CBAFKENX

To donate via bank transfer in US dollars, please use the following details

Account name: AFRICAN JESUIT AIDS NETWORK
Account number: 659 189 0023
Bank: Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd
Address: Mara & Ragati Roads, Upperhill
P.O. Box 30437 G.P.O
00100 Nairobi, KENYA
Bank Code: 07000
Swift Code: CBAFKENX

In some countries, it is possible to make a tax-free donation by donating through our Jesuit partners. To find out more, please fill in and send us this form and we will be in touch with you with more details.

Thank you for your support!

To read this appeal in French, please go here.

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