Joan Akinyi

Joan Akinyi has been living with HIV for more than ten years. And as a mother of three young children – one boy and two girls – Joan knows all too well how difficult it can be to provide for her family, especially with an illness that is often as debilitating as it is deadly.

But, with the support of CARE for AIDS, Joan is able to receive the food and medical care she needs to eat a balanced diet and keep her HIV under control. And with the skills she’s learned at the center, she is also able to run her own small business selling potatoes in order to cover the cost of things like school fees and rent.

“It is difficult when I become sick,” she admits. “That can be hard. But I trust in God to bring me through it.”

Right now, Joan says her most important goal is make sure her children finish their education.

“I pray for my children to be blessed,” she explains. “Life can get much worse, but it is not the end of the road. I don’t know what God has planned for them, but I hope. I believe. I trust. Everything has its own time…and everything will come to pass as it should.”

Joan's story is one of one hundred client stories captured in the CARE for AIDS coffee table book, 100 Faces. Learn more about this project here. 


Grander Vision

This year at the Global Leadership Summit- 10 years after Justin was inspired by Bono's talk to go to Kenya- the CARE for AIDS story was featured in a series of videos about Grander Vision. Below is an excerpt from the GLS blog, as well as a link to the video feature: 

At the 2016 GLS, we featured a Grander Vision story about the young founder of Care For AIDS—Justin Miller. While still a college student, Justin attended the GLS and, after watching a session with Bono, he was inspired to “do something” about the AIDS crisis in Africa. You can watch his inspiring story on GLS next here.

Recently, Justin sat down with the WCA blog to help us learn a little bit more about his backstory.

WCA: Whose leadership has had the most impact on your life?

Justin: My dad. I hope I can emulate two aspects of his leadership: 1) His continuous pursuit of learning and growth and 2) his desire to constantly add value to the lives of others. If leaders could only master these two things, the world would be a much better place.

WCA: What leaders do you admire and why?

Justin: Cornel Onyango and Duncan Kimani are the Kenyan co-founders of CARE for AIDS. Their conviction about and commitment to the cause of this ministry is unmatched. They have no regard for personal gain—only the building of the church and caring for the sick, poor and lost. I’m a better leader and person for knowing them.

WCA: What was the best leadership advice you received as a young leader?

“Success is doing what God wants you to do.” My dad told me this when I was 13 years old, but I didn’t understand true obedience until God called me (at the age of 19) to start CARE for AIDS. At times, obedience may seem to come at a great cost, but it is so exhilarating and fulfilling to be surrendered to God’s purpose for your life.

Read more here! 


Before & After

This morning's post comes from recent impact trip participant and Family Pastor at Eastside Baptist Church, Todd Graham. 

2 Corinthians 13:11-  Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Before arriving at her home, we had spent 4 days traveling many miles from town to town visiting the churches, communities and centers that partner with CARE for AIDS, learning about all of the ways this organization was changing lives in East Africa. 

I had met people along the way to her home, either before they started the CARE for AIDS program or just after starting.  Each person we spent time with before they started, seemed weary and tired but still courageous enough to keep looking for hope.  Then we arrived at her home and I began to see the rest of the story.

Before entering her house, we exchanged formal greetings, friendly smiles, and silently agreed to work through our language barriers together.  She was a gracious host- so grateful that we would honor her with a visit, but the honor was truly from my heart as we were welcomed so warmly.

Being under her roof meant that you were now part of the family, so I was introduced to her sister and immediately put to work preparing dinner for later that day.  Within minutes, everyone was chipping in, starting fires, shredding carrots, rolling out chapati dough, and sharing stories of daily home life.  For two hours, we worked, we laughed, we got messy, and we gradually exchanged our titles ofClients, Visitors and Strangers for designation of Friends and fellow life travelers.

While sharing our dinner, she shared her story.  This was a transitional story that evolved from devastation to re-construction and from hurt to healing.  Her story was one of a life made new.  It was a story that allowed me to re-consider what it meant to be born again.  She shared how once she contracted the AIDS virus, not only did her health decline, but she was also outcast from her community.  This dinner visit was not just about learning to cook a Kenyan dinner- to her it was about having people that saw her for who she was, not the virus that she had unknowingly contracted.  Love truly is a universal language.  We came as strangers and left as friends.

Through the work of CARE for AIDS and through the love of her sister, she had experienced a literal life saving year for her body, her mind, and her soul.  She cast off the stigmatic title of someone infected with a virus and reclaimed her ability to be a sister, mother, and community member again.

There were several more conversations with others that week after they had completed the CARE for AIDS program and the Before/After difference was astounding.  These were people who were truly living life.  Their bodies were healthful, eyes bright, & smiles wide.  These were people with hope. 

There are 5 areas of transformation that CARE for AIDS facilitates- Physical, Emotional, Social, Economic, & Spiritual.  Wholeness.  By reactivating and strengthening these 5 life areas, homes are changed, lives are spared, and children are raised in their own homes by their own parents in their own communities.

Before my 10 days in Kenya, I would classify myself as a compassionate skeptic.  I wanted to help but didn’t believe deep down that anything could be done to reverse the effects of the AIDS epidemic.  After a first hand account over 10 days with CARE for AIDS, the statistical results of their work over the last 8 years is undeniable and it reminds me a whole lot of Jesus.

Sheep and Goats

"But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." Matthew 25: 31-46

I don't have much experience with farm animals, so until my recent trip to Kenya I barely knew the difference between sheep and goats. As we were driving through Ahero (one of the newer communities we work with), I saw a young man trailing behind a large herd of goats and mistook animals as sheep. One of our Kenyan staff members was in the car with me and explained that you can always tell a shepherd from a goatherd from the position they take in the flock- goatherds always trail behind the goats, hitting the animals with sticks to lead them one direction or another, while shepherds will always be in front of their flocks of sheep, leading the group to the correct location with their presence and voices. 

Functionally, sheep and goats act the same- they end up in the place they are supposed to be, they follow directions. The difference is in their posture. Sheep are followers, goats run out in front, forcing their goatherds to chase after them. 

As leaders, I think it is particularly easy for us to fall into goat mentality. We want to get where we're going at our own pace and by our own will. But, if we learn anything from this scripture, its that the foolishness of the goat will catch up to him sooner or later. If there is one thing that should describe us as leaders, it should be that we are actually, firstly and most importantly, followers. 

“Follow my example, as I follow in the example of Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1

Paul beautifully summed up the desire to be a sheep - as leaders, we should always be focusing on following our shepherd before we focus on leading others. 


The moment I stepped off the plane in Kenya, there was a pure sense of welcoming.  From the smiles that greeted us to the “Jambo” signs overhead, there was not a moment that made me feel like an outsider.  I had been told about the contagious joyful and hospitable spirit of Kenya and I was so excited to experience it for myself.

The second day of our trip stands out to me because I had the joy of experiencing something that would forever etch itself into my mind.  Our team arrived at the church where we would be attending a Sunday service, walked inside, and were quickly seated in front.  We were a little early and the pastor was leading the pre-service service - yes, they have these.  After the children were shown to a smaller room and the worship portion of the service began, I stepped out for a moment and was pulled aside by one of the center staff.  He explained to me that the children felt left out because all of the “Muzungus” were in the sanctuary and invited me to spend time with the children and bring a lesson to their Sunday school class.

Before we left for this trip, I promised myself I would step out and be bold.  So, feeling nervous and unprepared, I stepped into the small room full of expectant children. The teacher introduced me and I began racking my brain and teaching them a few songs. We sang “Jesus Loves Me”, “This little light of Mine”, and “I’ve got the Joy”. Then, I got to learn one of their songs “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.  This song is interactive and it was so much fun to see the children sing those words while smiling and being silly with one another.  When I realized the children were receptive to even my singing voice, which I can promise is nothing anyone wants to hear, I gained a sense of comfort and realized I had so much I wanted to share with them.  We went on to memory verses, bible lessons, and discussion and before I knew it our time together was over. 

We took a short break and the teacher passed out a snack to have before we joined the rest of the congregation.  During snack time, I was talking with the teacher and in the corner of my eye, i saw a group of the children standing up and waiting for my attention.  When I looked to them, i was left speechless.  These children, many of who had empty bellies upon arriving to church, wanted me to have one of their cookies. The next meal isn’t always guaranteed for these children, however they were lined up waiting to give me some of the only thing they had as a token of their appreciation.  One little girl leaned over to me and said “Thank you for coming to our country” and reached her arms wide for a hug.  I was left teary and overwhelmed with emotion as the children exited the room, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how sweet and pure their hearts were. It was at this time that I realized how unblemished love could be and how Jesus is a common thread for all of the word.

As I opened my hands to what God had planned for me in that Sunday school room, the children opened theirs and showed me a degree of generosity that I have never seen in my life.  I will always remember that morning and I hope I will never forget how saying yes to being bold for Jesus brought me one of my greatest blessings.