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Mercy for children born with HIV in Kenya

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

The main purpose of the HIV Positive and Orphaned/Vulnerable Children project is to advocate and care for children who are and are not born with HIV/AIDS. At the forefront of this work is SLDI alumna Sr. Patricia Kyambuu.

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When Sr. Patricia finished ASEC's SLDI program, she knew exactly how to use her new skills in basic technology, administration and leadership: to help orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya living with HIV/AIDS.

“Your baby is healthy.”

These are by far the most reassuring words for any mother of a newborn. After months of prenatal care and attentive precautions these words bring a sense of relief to mothers. However, not every mother hears these words.

In Kenya, nearly 40% of of all babies born to women with HIV/AIDS will acquire the virus either during the mother’s pregnancy, during childbirth or while  breastfeeding. At merely days or weeks old, these children already face years of hardship. Years that the parents of these children may not be prepared to face. Whether this be due to financial difficulties or lack of parenting skills, parents will often times choose to leave their HIV positive children at orphanages.

Childhood is supposed to be filled laughter and play dates with friends. But, children born with this virus have already experienced a great deal of adversity. However, in Lodwar, Kenya an orphanage is ensuring that these children have the same opportunities as any other child.

The Sisters of Mercy’s HIV Positive and Orphaned/Vulnerable Children project is working hard to advocate and care for children who are and are not born with HIV/AIDS. At the forefront of this work is Sr. Patricia Kyambuu.

Sr. Patricia is an alumna of ASEC’s Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) Program. Through this experience Sr. Patricia learned skills in administration and basic technology. But most importantly Sr. Patricia was inspired lead.

After completing the program, Sr. Patricia immediately began work with the Sisters of Mercy’s project. Using her newfound skills in finance, basic technology and leadership, she was able to help expand the project.

Since then, the project has become so much more than an orphanage. The project has grown to offer HIV/AIDS services, community health trainings, psycho-social support, nutrition services, alcohol abuse rehabilitation as well as other services related to microfinance and income generating activities.

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Poster designed by Sr. Patricia Kyambuu to demonstrate her programs: HIV/AIDS Program and Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Program.

Poster designed by Sr. Patricia Kyambuu to demonstrate her programs: HIV/AIDS Program and Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Program.

Although the project has expanded to include more services for the general community, children have always been the first priority of Sr. Patricia and the other religious sisters. Through the program, the children receive a proper education and nutritional assistance. But perhaps the most important thing the children get out of the program is a childhood.

When faced with HIV/AIDS children are forced to grow up faster than they should. However, this project not only provides help to the children but also the opportunity for them to act like children. In this program they are allowed to play. They are allowed to laugh. They are allowed to love.

Provide hope for a generation growing up with HIV/AIDS

While impressive, this one program they can only do so much. There are hundreds of religious sisters across Africa, just like Sr. Patricia, who have the desire to help children with HIV/AIDS have the carefree childhood they deserve. It is ASEC’s goal to give these religious sisters the education they need to turn their desires into possibilities.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

End poverty in all its forms everywhere End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all Reduce inequality within and among countries


Profiled in article
SLDI Alumna, Administration Track - Kenya  

Briana Ryan


Author
ASEC Web Content Intern - USA  

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