Millicent Akinyi comes from a very large family, the third-born child in a family of nine. She lived most of her childhood with her mother, who was a Christian and raised the family in church.
“My mother was [a believer],” she says, “but my father was not.”
Millicent attended primary school but was then forced to drop out because her parents could no longer afford to send her or her siblings. Although public school is free in Kenya, the cost of uniforms and books can often lead families to remove their children from the programs.
“After I left,” she says, “I started babysitting and working as a house girl in order to earn a living.”
Eventually, Millicent says she began to feel sick. Immediately, she went to get tested at a clinic and discovered she was HIV positive.
“I found out my status this year,” she says. “I had a lot of pain, but ever since I’ve been coming to the [CARE for AIDS] center, I’ve realized I can live for many more years. Maybe even fifty! It has given me the determination I need.”
When asked what she would like to do with her next fifty years, Millicent says proudly, “I would love to go to college and become a tailor.”
And perhaps she will. Her determination to live a happy, peaceful life despite her illness is what drives Millicent to look forward to the future. “Through the trials I’ve faced,” Millicent says, “I have hope now.”