AIDS is the biggest cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. The statistics make grim reading - 23 million of the world's 34 million AIDS victims live in Africa and of these 1.5 million live in Kenya. According to the UN AIDS Report 2010, around 1.2 million children are orphaned by AIDS in Kenya and 100,000 people die every year from AIDS related illnesses in Kenya. AIDS is the biggest cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. What can any of us actually do in the face of such suffering? Each of us can start by helping one person at a time. We started with the people living with HIV in the slums or in remote rural areas and talked with them. We listened, we learned through their own language and through their own culture. Together, with our partners, we are there sharing the loneliness, fear, need. Our starting point is a mother, a child, a person in their own real crisis. We work with people, not statistics. We bring people together to support each other and see how this support network grows and reaches out within the communities.
We know we have no perfect solution and that we have very limited resources, but we can at least chip away at it. This is why NWI targets AIDS prevention as a key priority in Kenya.
In 2014, NWI distributed over 230,000 condoms. We support HIV prevention projects and, together with our partner, ICROSS International, we are involved in sex education and safe motherhood projects. NWI is working to support new initiatives in harm reduction, in preventing mother to child transmissions and in needle exchange services. We are also involved in female circumcision prevention, as well as working with commercial sex workers. We are campaigning through awareness activities to de-stigmatise HIV/AIDS and to fight discrimination. The problem looks overwhelming and in some ways it is. What can any of us actually do in the face of these figures? Well again, we started with the people living in the slums or deep out in the bush and talked with them. The picture we got was of loneliness, fear – people afraid even to admit their HIV status. So our starting point had to be forget the numbers and remember that every single statistic is a human story in all its heartbreak, desperation, and sometimes triumph. Bring people together to support each other and see how this support network grows and reaches out within the communities.