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Meet Ibo

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Ibo is a current client at Ruiru center. She is a 37-year-old single mom to five children ranging in age from 20 to 7 years old. Ibo found out that she was HIV positive in 2011 when she was pregnant with her youngest child. Since then, she has been living with strong self-stigma because of her status. When she gave birth to the baby, she was so ashamed that she rejected the child, often leaving him locked inside their home all day long without care hoping he would die. Miraculously, her baby survived.

Through the CARE for AIDS counseling, group therapy, and seminars, Ibo has overcome her self-stigma. She is now able and willing to talk openly about her HIV status with others and is no longer ashamed about it. She used to despise herself because of her status, but she is learning to accept who she is and be proud again. She also become self-reliant through the various skills she has learned in our program. She has learned how to make yogurt, peanut butter, bar soap, liquid soap and detergent. She is able to use these skills to make money to buy food and support her children.

When Ibo started the CARE for AIDS program, she was sick with stomach ulcers and weighed only 70 pounds because she wasn't getting enough to eat. She became so weak that she was no longer able to walk further than a few feet. Through the CARE for AIDS medical endowment fund, she was taken to the hospital and received treatment for her ulcers. She is thankful for the medical support and nutritional supplements from CARE for AIDS; because of this help her ulcers have healed and she has gained almost 25 pounds over the past few months. She is also now walking all the way to the CARE for AIDS center for seminars and counseling. She may be tiny in stature, but says she feels herself getting stronger every day.

Ibo is a Muslim, yet she enjoys and feels comfortable attending all of the CFA activities and counseling at the church where our staff have an opportunity to share the gospel and point her to our hope in Jesus. She says she knows that God has been the one who has sustained her and her children during the last 7 years.

Orphan Prevention

This morning's blog post is from CARE for AIDS board member and recent Impact Trip leader, Kylie White. To see more stories and photos from Kylie's recent trip to Kenya, check out our Instagram. 


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One of the more impactful moments of my trip was one many would’ve passed over. It was during a graduation at Kia'ndutu. The clients were brought up to show some of the products they had learned to make in the program. As they were showing them off one by one, there was a mom and toddler standing in line. The daughter was repeatedly kissing her mom on the face, the mother just smiled and kissed back. In that moment I was struck with the fact that these moms love their kids as much as I love mine.

They do not want to leave them as orphans, they want to provide a good life for their families as much as I do. As I watched that mother, beaming with pride over the purses she made, as her precious daughter kissed her face, I thought, this is what God intended; not families to be broken apart by disease and poverty.

As an adoptive mom myself, I’ve seen firsthand the grief and pain of losing your first family. So, I will give and pray and sacrifice to keep families together just like this one. I'm beyond privileged to be a part of CARE for AIDS as they allow moms and dads like these to raise their children and learn a marketable skill to break the cycle of poverty in their family. I pray other families come alongside these families and get engaged. 


Interested in engaging your children in the work of CARE for AIDS? Check out Kylie's work on an initiative called Families for Families. Learn more here

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About Kylie White: Kylie White is a mom of 4 elementary schoolers (Reese, Wheeler, Maran, and Levi)  and wife to her best friend John. They live in North Carolina and operate two Chick-fil-A restaurants. Her eyes were opened to the orphan crisis through adoption and her passion ever since has been orphan prevention. Her family first got connected to CARE for AIDS through a friend and went on a trip in 2013. They lead trips regularly to spread the excitement about all God is doing in East Africa. Her heartbeat for her children is generosity and for them to see that following Jesus is an exciting adventure. Families for Families is a natural next step as she engages other moms like herself to live on purpose beyond the 4 walls of their home.

Anne - 2016 Graduate

Anne is a graduate of Waithaka center from 2016. Six months after graduation, her class had a follow-up meeting at the center. To close the meeting, Anne stood before the entire class and gave this inspiring testimony. Waithaka center is led by Dorcas Mwende, the Health Counselor, and Dan, the Spiritual Counselor, both of whom Anne references in her story.

“One day, Mwende came and found me at my house. At that time my CD4 count was 202*. I felt like I was dying. On the day Mwende came, I had bought 4 packets of rat poison. It was enough that I could take and kill myself. Mwende brought me here to the church. After some time, I told her I needed to hurry up and leave. I wanted to get back home before the kids got back from school. I wanted to the take the poison and die before the kids got home. But Mwende went back home with me. She stayed until 4 pm, after the kids had already returned home. So I didn’t take the poison. This is how God lifted and preserved my life.

From that day on, there was a word from God that I couldn’t get out of my mind. ‘Why should you die? You have a lot of work that I want you to do for me still.’ And that’s why when I talk to others who are also HIV positive, I tell them, 'There is still life ahead of you even after you realize your status.'

When I found out that I had tested positive, I thought that everything was gone. I thought I was the only one in the whole world in this state. But then Mwende brought me to this church. Can you imagine someone who intended to take rat poison is where I am now? I wanted to kill myself but now I stand here today and I’ve even brought another life into this world**. 

All I can say is that CFA truly brought from the ground all the way up. From this program I’ve learned how to make soap and I’m proud to sell it. I also have learned how to do tie and dye; you may have even seen me wearing some of the work I have done. But what’s best about this program isn’t the skills or the food we receive, but that the word of God is taught.

You know, I never used to smile, but now you see that I can smile. Dan used to call me and I would tell him to stop calling because I was in the company of others and I didn’t want them to overhear. But now, I can pick up the phone and respond anywhere. You can even look at me and see that I am fat now***. This is a group that will raise you from the ground up. From zero to hero. 

I’m grateful to Jesus because he gave me these people to walk with me. I’m proud of each of you for being here. Be thankful for this opportunity. God bless you.”

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* A normal range for CD4 cells is about 500-1,500. When the CD4 count drops below 200 due to advanced HIV disease, a person is diagnosed with AIDS. (https://www.hiv.va.gov/patient/diagnosis/labs-CD4-count.asp)

** Anne has a 2-month-old baby boy.

*** Being “fat” means that she is healthier, that she has been able to eat well and gain weight. That she isn’t sickly like she was before.

MEET JUDY

In May of last year, Judy was a successful business woman in a slum area outside of Nairobi. She made a living selling produce at the local market and led a good life with her family. One day when Judy was on her way to work, she was struck by a moving vehicle that veered off the road. She was severely hurt and was taken to the local hospital.

While being treated for her injury, Judy learned that she was HIV+. She explained that this left her feeling confused, scared for her life, and scared for her family. Knowing this could ultimately orphan her children, she finally found the courage to tell her husband. Her husband in turn left her insisting she had been unfaithful. To add to the tragedy, she did not have health insurance and learned she had broken her upper and lower leg and would need a full leg cast. The cost of this treatment emptied the money she had saved for her children’s schooling and for the family’s rent money.

Judy had no option but to send her children to live with family and move to a different slum area to recover. In an instant, Judy was left without a husband, without her children, without her home, without her savings, and with a disease she was confident would take her life and orphan her children. Around this time, she heard her neighbors talking about the church close to them. She overheard a little about the CARE for AIDS program and decided to give it a try. She explained that she had come to terms with dying and felt like she had no other option. 

When my husband and I met Judy in September, she was halfway through the 9 month empowerment program and was full of hope and determination. She told us something I remember as profound, that she was thankful for her status. Judy shared that If it hadn’t been for her HIV+ status, she never would have met Jesus or learned what it meant to live with the peace and grace of God. Judy was excited to heal, resume working, bring her children home, and begin ministering to others like her in her community. She said she was determined to use her status and her situation to glorify the Lord. 

It was an absolute joy to visit Judy in her home.

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Her Story Is Not Over

Becoming HIV-positive changed Jacky’s life forever. As she told me her story, at multiple points her eyes filled with tears, but she says she finds strength in sharing her story, so she didn’t stop talking until it was over. The thing about it, though, is her story is not over. It just started. Here is Jacky’s story in her own words. She starts her story in 2010, when she lived in Busia in the Western part of Kenya, and her life was very different:

I was a farmer in Busia. I had a husband and one child, and I was so happy. I loved my farm, and would work in it every day, selling some of the produce and feeding my small family with the rest. One day I was going to the clinic for routine check ups with my first born. They talked to me about HIV and I decided to get tested. I was shocked to find that I was HIV-positive. I kept it to myself, and didn’t let it affect me. I just kept working on my farm and living my life.

My husband, I found out later, was unfaithful to me. Many times. Because of HIV, and my weakened immune system, I received many STDs from him that he brought from outside. After some time, I realized that I was pregnant again. For the baby’s sake, I decided to tell my husband about my status so he could help me stay healthy. He left me. His family told me that I no longer belonged to them, so they took my farm, and the house. I was devastated, but I didn’t rest. I moved to Nairobi to look for work. I needed to take care of my children. After some time of not finding a job, I was becoming desperate. Life in Nairobi is hard. I have an Aunt who lives in Mombasa, and she told me I could come stay with her while looking for a job. Shortly after arriving in Mombasa, I gave birth. I gave birth in my room, alone. I was afraid to go to the clinic, because I knew they might reveal my status to my Aunt and I didn’t know how she would react. Looking back, I know this was foolish. Without the help of doctors (and I wasn’t taking my HIV medicine) the risk of passing the virus to my child was high.

I wanted to breast feed, so for the first time, I started taking ARVs (Anti-retroviral drugs to control and diminish HIV). At this time, I also moved into my own place because I was so afraid of my Aunt finding out, but after some time I started getting sick on and off. Sometimes I couldn't get out of bed. I needed my Aunt’s help with the children, so I finally decided to tell her about my HIV. My greatest fears came true. She went mad, and started shouting at me, and went outside and starting shouting to the neighbors telling them my status! I ran from there. I was crying. I couldn’t believe what she did. In that moment she became my enemy... my own family. She should have helped me.


During that time I became so depressed. I stayed inside all day. I never went out. Sometimes I could hear my neighbors talking about me and about my status. I couldn’t go out and face them. I still needed money to take care of my children, so I started making changa’a (moonshine). I would make it at night and sell it at night so I never had to go outside during the day. To make things worse, during this time the medicine I was taking was making me hallucinate. Once, when I was taking the pills, they turned into little coffins and floated around. Sometimes, I couldn't stand up after taking them because I was so dizzy. This time was so hard for me. Once, I drank battery acid trying to end my life, but I threw it all up.

I knew I needed to change my prescription because the medicine shouldn’t have been affecting me that way. So, I decided to go to the clinic to get new drugs. My stigma was so high, it took me multiple attempts to go inside. I would walk up to the door, and at the last minute I would just keep walking. When I finally one day decided to go in, I saw a lady that I knew. It terrified me to see her, but I was already inside, so I just sat down. She came over and greeted me. She was so kind, and encouraged me, and we exchanged phone numbers. Her name is Agatha.

Shortly after that, I got a job working as a maid. The woman I worked for was a professional counselor. She would talk to me, and was helping me start to overcome my stigma. After a few weeks, Agatha called me, and said there was a program that would give me weekly food packages. I wanted this for my children, so one day I got permission from my employer, and I went to Agatha’s house. There, I met John and Sarah, from Mikindani (CARE for AIDS' first center in Mombasa). They told me about the program and registered me to join. My stigma was still very high, so after they left, I waited a few hours to leave. I didn’t want anyone to associate me with them, because they were known for working with HIV. 


My first breakthrough happened at the launch (the very first day of the program where all the clients come together for orientation, fellowship, and a meal). I walked in, and I saw amongst the other clients many people that I knew. Some of them were my neighbors! I never knew that they were HIV-positive. I just laughed. We had all been hiding from each other!

Through the counseling from John and Sarah, things starting improving quickly. I started feeling hopeful. I started gaining weight - I was under [90 pounds] when I started the program, now I’m around [120]!

One day, some people came to John and Sarah looking for some of us who would be willing to share about our status. I volunteered. Only a few months previous, I was afraid to go to the clinic to get my drugs, now I was at that same clinic talking to over a hundred people about my status, encouraging them to get tested. The clinic really liked me, and the hired me as a peer counselor and community mobilizer. In November we went on a campaign where we traveled around different cities sharing about HIV. Can you believe that? Me! Talking into a microphone about my status.


I’m so grateful to CFA. I graduated in January, and my life has completely changed. I’m living a good life now. I don’t make illegal brew anymore. I don’t hide in my house anymore. I forgave my Aunt, and she has accepted me. She’s even my best friend now. People know me now. They invite me to speak. People call me to order cakes - I’m really good at baking.

Another thing - when I first came to CFA, I wasn’t going to church. Now I do. I’ve seen how God takes care of us, and how He has a plan for us. I joined a church. I am trying to follow Him. I’ve seen that when we are close to Him, He really blesses us. For example, after joining that church, they enrolled my children in a program that connects them to sponsors who pay for their school fees. That has helped me so much.

I’ve come a long way from my life in Busia when I was a farmer. For the first time since then, I can say again that I have a good life. Thank you CFA for helping me find it.


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