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Kenya: happy, healthy and living with HIV

Every day, Alice Awino takes antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to suppress the HIV she has lived with for more than eight years. With this treatment, Alice can look forward to many years of healthy life and the chance to see her six children grow up.

Life-saving medicine

This is not a future those diagnosed with HIV could have looked forward to when the virus was first reported by Kenya’s Ministry of Health in 1984.

Today, with funding from donors including USAID, antiretrovirals have been rolled out across Kenya following a campaign by organisations including Christian Aid partner the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK).

Those in need of the treatment can now access it for free.

But to take the drugs safely, Alice must ensure she has a healthy diet.

Alice Awino

Isolated and alone

Making sure she and her children had enough to eat was no easy task for Alice after her second husband died. With no money and no means of supporting herself, Alice was left homeless.

Alice recalls: ‘I was sleeping in a structure that was not in a good condition. It was abandoned. Only half the roof had grass thatch, and half was open. When it rained, I would be rained on and I would get sick.’

Often ill, Alice struggled to provide food for herself and her children – food that could make the difference between staying healthy and deteriorating further.

Alice says: ‘We lacked food. Some of my children became malnourished. I became depressed because I couldn’t do the work.’

A balanced diet

Alice’s life changed when she joined a support group for people living with HIV.

Christian Aid partner ACK Development Service (ADS) Nyanza has been helping this group through a project funded by Comic Relief.

It helps Alice and the other members identify where government support is available and where there are gaps that need to be filled.

ADS also provides training in skills such as starting a business, and even provides capital to set up savings and loans associations.

Alice says: ‘I have benefited a lot from the group. We have a dairy goat as a group and I am a member of the savings and loans association.

‘I drink the milk from the dairy goat: can’t you see I’m strong?  It is nutritious and has made me strong and able to attend to my farm as opposed to previously when I would feel very weak and unable to work.’

Hardworking and determined, Alice and her family have gone from strength to strength.

As a result of aid being spent on an effective project that supports particularly vulnerable people, Alice can invest time and energy in building a secure future for her whole family, free from hunger.

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