Portrait of boy, beneficiary of medical camp arranged by SOS Kenya
A story about a mother from Nairobi who lost her husband and had to fight her own battles:
Zipporah lost her husband in August 1997 when she was expecting her last born son. She used to sell food seasonings in order to provide for her family. She did not know that her husband was HIV positive until after his death. Having been tested herself, Zipporah joined the SOS Family Strengthening Programme's (FSP) HIV programme with a very low CD4 count (CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell and are an important part of the immune system). Her weight was also very low, at only 39 kilograms. To make the situation worse she was also taking care of her four children and two grandchildren. Her children only attended school intermittently because she could not afford stationery and the school uniform. When Zipporah joined the programme, she was given free medical care for herself and her immediate family. One of her sons was enrolled into the education programme which provides him with a school uniform and stationery. Zipporah was also enrolled on to the nutrition programme from which she receives nutrition counselling and supplementary foods - essential for anyone taking anti-retrovirals. She was also given a loan from a revolving fund to expand her business.
Since joining the SOS FSP Zipporah's CD4 count has increased and her general health improved. Her weight has also increased to 75 kilograms. Zipporah showed an interest in getting skills training in soft furnishing and in 2008 she enrolled in the SOS Vocational Training Centre's Saturday classes for informal sector training, sponsored by the Netherlands government. This programme is open to the community and provides business skills and practical training to aspiring artisans for a small cost and is run on Saturdays only. Zipporah's course lasted one year and since she started she has been making things for her friends who, after admiring her work, started to buy it. Her business is still developing since she has not bought a sewing machine of her own and she works from her house. She does all her sewing work by hand which takes a while before anything is completed. She has been making curtains and bed covers which she sells to her neighbours and friends. She has also been able to repay her loan and works part time as a community health worker as a result of her own experience on the SOS Family Strengthening Programme.
Zipporah says that she has acquired a lot of skills and is now planning to buy a sewing and embroidery machine which she will be use to make items for sale. She also plans to open her own workshop when she can afford it.