From the land of tea to AIDS

For my past weekend adventure, I visited a friend that lives in Kericho, the land of tea! Kericho is only about a two hour drive from Kisumu, but in order to get there I took a matatu, a van-like vehicle that is over packed with people. I sat in the matatu waiting for the driver to decide there was a sufficient amount of passengers for over an hour. A matatu typically has seats for the driver and two people next to him, the second row is of three, followed by two rows consisting of a seat at the window, a gap and a two-seater, but in order to efficiently use the space, a small wood board is placed where a gap between seats exist to seat an additional person. For short rides, the door of the matatu even stays open so the assistant can hang on the side allowing space for yet another person. Regardless of the long wait to finally depart, the trip to Kericho was fun! Kericho reminded me a little of Gettysburg because it is so green due to its high altitude and fertile mountains.
The past week, I was in the field the whole time vetting beneficiaries. Those individuals that finished or are close to a vocational course were able to apply for a startup kit. Startup kits enable beneficiaries to begin a business. Most of the applicants were students from Sisterhood for Change. Going house to house, I vetted with Debby 39 applicants. The vetting process consists of a series of questions and recommendations for chief leaders, the institution and community health worker. The purpose of vetting is to ensure the beneficiaries are vulnerable, need to startup kit and have the initiative to put the kit to good use. After a week of vetting, Monday I was able to attend the distribution of startup kits. At the Obunga Central meeting area, 30 beneficiaries receive kits in the following courses: catering, hairdressing, motor vehicle mechanics, and tailoring. The event truly was something special, and I am happy I was able to be a part of the process. I have worked closely with many of the recipients, and even those that were not Sisterhood girls are from communities in Obunga, which is where I have focused my time. Yesterday, I spent the day writing up a report on the whole vetting process and distribution of the startup kits. Although having a full office day is not my favorite kind of day, it is extremely important to report well on the ongoing activities. This morning I joined my department in Sega Sega, Obunga for the Community Conversations (CC) Facilitator Training. This three day training focuses on refreshing the CC facilitators on how to properly run meetings and is a forum of discussion for issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS, in particularly to the issues concerning Children Affected by HIV/AIDS(CAHA). The two main discussion/reflection points of the day were: (1) 50.7% of CAHA had engaged in sex with more than one partner. How have I individually fueled this occurrence? (2) It has been established that 73.8% of CAHA engaged in sex in the last 12 months and that only 26.9% reported using a condom every time they had sex. What is the historical timeline of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the community beginning in the 80s until now? The CC facilitators were broken into 6 groups to create a historical timeline. Many groups included topics such as post election sexual violence, media influence, the lack of family planning awareness and stigma that has been associated with HIV/AIDS.

Victoria Pérez-Zetune’16
Kisumu, Kenya