AFRICA NEWS, FROM THE FIELD, HIV/AIDS + Healthcare

HIV/AIDS: Filling in the Gaps.

Africa is home to 66% of the world’s HIV/AIDS population.

Monica Odero, a graduate of African Leadership’s leadership development training, along with her husband, Peter, founded the Heritage Kenya Organization (HEKO) to “fill in the gaps” where the government was unable to provide for local communities living with HIV/AIDS. The Kenyan government provides free ARVs to any HIV patient. However, most of those infected are not properly nourished and undergo huge obstacles with family and friends because of the social stigma. The provided ARV drugs simply cannot be the sole solution for those suffering with HIV/AIDS.

Peter and Monica’s heart is to give those coming to HEKO a better quality of life. This requires love and support, which is found in their counseling and self-help groups, as well as teaching of the basics of caring for their bodies through nutritional support and access to a dietician. In addition, Peter has always looked for new ways to better the lives of those that are part of the HEKO programs. From community gardens that grow vegetables, to facilitating opportunities to make goods to sell at the market, Peter has worked to innovate for those living with HIV/AIDS.

The Oderos recently shared with us a success story about a woman named Jennifer that participated in HEKO’s skills training programs. She learned through the nutrition program about the essential nutrients needed to thrive each day. Through her studies, she found a dried fish in the local market that provided most of those daily nutritional needs. She identified a demand, a product she could afford to purchase, and started selling the dried fish in the slums. When she started in the HEKO programs, she could hardly move and had been left for dead by her family. On one of our recent Mocha Club/African Leadership visits, Jennifer was walking around with a huge smile on her face, proudly showing off her fish to all of us. Through her skills training and entrepreneurial intuition, she had succeeded in creating her own dried fish business and just bought her first house for her and her children to live in.

With your help, Monica and Peter are “filling in the gaps” by creating innovative and inspiring programs that give women like Jennifer, living with HIV/AIDS, hope and opportunity.

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