Meet Harrison Maina

April 4, 2012

The following is a guest post from our Empowerment Coordinator, Sarah Muthoni, in Kenya. She personally interviewed client Harrison Maina at the Banana Hill graduation ceremony last week. This is what Sarah says…

In the year 2003, Harrison married Milliscent Atieno. They got their firstborn son Dickson Mwathi and were staying at Kisumu town. Harrison did not have regular income, but he ran a small grocery shop which could hardly sustain the family. They were struggling with marital conflicts until finally they divorced, and Milliscent went back to live with her parents.

Four years later Kenya experienced post election violence, and Harrison was not spared.  Being a Kikuyu living in Luo land, he was harassed and his business burnt down, and he escaped death by a whisker. At the height of the post election violence Harrison found a good samaritan who offered him a lift from Kisumu to Nairobi where landed at a camp in Banana town for the internally displaced persons. At the IDP camp Harrison met a pastor who invited him to the church service the following Sunday, where he made the decision to give his life to Jesus. Harrison grew in the faith and served in several ways in the church like in playing piano and teaching young children. The church offered him a small room where he stayed, and he would do manual jobsaround Banana town to sustain himself. Later he found a girl who accepted to marry him, but during their pre-marital counseling, the Pastor suggested that they do a HIV test. To their surprise the girl turned HIV negative and Harrison turned HIV positive. Their wedding could not then take place, and Harrison was a frustrated man.

In the meantime, Millliscent his former wife was in and out of hospital. Later she was diagnosed with HIV – she had also contracted TB, and she passed away while at her parents home in Kisumu. Her son was left in the hands of his mother’s aging parents. He was tossed from one relative to the other but finally one of the South Africa relatives traced his father and they were re-united in casino Banana. Harrison now had not only to work for his own upkeep but his son’s upkeep too. Life became harder because his son was a candidate by then for school and needed school fees.

One day when Harrison went to collect his ARVs at the hospital, a person suggested that he join the CFA center at Banana Hill Baptist Church. Harrison joined the center in June 2011 and this marked a turn-around of his life.  He says,

“I thank God for the food I got from the center, and the counseling I received changed my outlook of life. Furthermore, I learned business skills and am now selling fruits in my neighborhood. In my third month at the center we formed small support groups and the members elected me as their leader. This responsibility opened my eyes and I realized that I could serve as a leader, this task further challenged me to always be ready for what God calls me to do. I enjoy being part of this group as I feel that am not alone in life but there are others like me who are facing life boldly.”

As Harrison continued to come to the center and serve in his church, he discovered that he could do translation very well. This is actually a talent, because he went to school only up to grade eight yet he could speak English and Kiswahili fluently. His self-esteem grew and during the graduation at the center he translated in front of everyone for the preacher. I sat for lunch with him after the graduation, and Harrison told me that now that he has graduated from the center, he will utilize all that he learned to expand his business and educate his son Dickson. He looked healthier and confessed that his life has changed drastically since joining the Banana CFA center:

“I am very grateful that CFA came my way when I was very desperate for help.”

Harrison on his graduation day at Banana Hill Baptist Church

Harrison on his graduation day at Banana Hill Baptist Church

Praise the Lord for stories like Harrison’s!  Please continue to pray with us for the thousands of people in Kenya who are hopeless and outcast, and who desperately need to experience the kind of encouragement and empowerment that Harrison found in CARE for AIDS.