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Jacqueline Omulo was born on September 12, 1967 in the Kisumu district. She was the fifth of twelve children and her parents were happily married growing up. Her father and five siblings have passed. Her mother still lives in Kisumu, but is bedridden because of diabetes and a stroke.
Jacqueline has been married to her husband, Joab Omulo, for twenty-five years. Joab is from the Ciaya district. Together, Jacqueline and Joab have five children. Nancy is 16, Willis is 12, Audrey is eight, Phoebe is six, and Mary is four. Both of them were educated through Form four; Joab works as a welder and has for the last twenty years. Unfortunately it is not stable work, so he often looks for other opportunities of employment.
Bead work has been Jacqueline’s primary work for the last fourteen years. She makes jewelry and wire animals. Through her work she has been able to buy land, but she has yet to build on it. Unfortunately her sales are not enough to support her family and to build a new home or pay her current rent.
Jacqueline hopes that after building a house life will be easier because owning a home means no monthly rent payments. This will make it easier for her family to afford school fees and their basic needs.
She hopes that Tuko Pamoja will continue to support Visions so that they can build on land the group owns.
Vicky Anyango Ojal
Vicky was born on November 24, 1985 in Homa-bay. She was the fourth born of nine children; she has two brothers and six sisters! She was educated through Form three, but had to leave after that because her family could no longer provide the school fees.
Vicky has one son who is seven years old and in Standard two. Like Jane he is HIV+, and she is a client of Lea Toto, which is how Vicky was introduced to the Visions Self-Help Group. As a single mother she provides for her family through the sales of her handmade bangles, beaded wire animals, and necklaces. She also serves as a volunteer Community Health Worker (CHW). She is trying really hard to help and improver her community, and is always praying for help and support for her fellow CHWs. The biggest challenge for her personally and those around her is the struggle of stigma of HIV.
She hopes that she can continue to support her mother and son, and that Tuko Pamoja will continue to grow. She prays that God will have time for her to make all of this happen.
Sarah Olga was born in Nyanza in Homabay County on June 24, 1966. She was raised in a strong, faithful family, and was one of fourteen children! Her father was a pastor. He died in 2004 of prostate problems, and her mother passed in 2008 of diabetes.
At seven years old, Sarah was born again and became a Catholic. She went to school up to Form four, but there was no more money for high school.
Sarah’s first husband died of HIV/AIDS. After she remarried, Sarah and her husband had four children. Her second born is HIV+, and the other three are negative (her husband is also negative). The youngest child was born in 2001 as a twin, but sadly the twin passed away. After that pregnancy Sarah had a tubal ligation. Her husband no longer lives at home with her and her family. In addition to raising her four children, Sarah cares for six other children from her siblings who have passed.
Sarah is a facilitator and advocate for stigma reduction in her community. In fact, she has started two groups: PMTCT (Prevention of Mother’s to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS) and CPWP (Community Prevention with Positives to prevent transmission through education). She has even traveled back to her home area and helped neighbors and family friends who are HIV+. She educated the rural community about AIDS and condom use, and referred the ill and dying to clinics for medical help.
For income, Sarah makes and sells bead products such as belts of coconut shells and beaded jewelry. The biggest challenges Sarah faces is paying rent and buying food, especially as a single parent. She continues to have a positive outlook because she wants to be a role model for her children and in her community. Eventually she would like to visit the U.S. to teach about positive living for those with HIV and to promote a stigma-free society.
Sarah loves to travel, dance and sing. She has great faith.
Lynet Mwajuma was born on December 5, 1984. Lynet is a well-spoken woman, always smiling, sharing what it means to “be positive and living positively.” She was born in Nyanza, and is one of seven children. She has two brothers and four sisters, and they all live in different places within Kenya. Lynet completed Form four, and is helpful with translating English between customers and other members of the Visions group.
Lynet is married to Samuel Oyuai, 11 years her senior, who has held a steady job for many years as a machine operator in the industrial area of Nairobi. Together they have two children; Joseph Edison is ten and in Standard five. He is HIV+ and is receiving his medication from Lea Toto. Her younger son, Earl Joshua, is four and attends preschool. Earl is HIV negative. Her husband’s nephew, a 22 year-old in university, also lives with them.
Visions Self-Help Group is Lynet’s only employment, and she relies on the sales of their crafts to support her family. She says her biggest challenge at home is supporting one HIV+ and one HIV negative child. Earl is too young to understand why Joseph takes medicine every day, and Earl also wants some to be like his older brother. Joseph, the older son, worries daily about his younger brother, especially when he is sick, and is concerned he too is infected. Lynet is very proud of her children, and looks forward to watching them grow and have families of their own.
Lynet teaches her children to always look on the bright side, and hope that anything is possible.
Margaret Mukasa was born on December 12, 1964 in Eldoret. She is one of ten children; she has four brothers and five sisters. Margaret is HIV+ and has a sister who also lives in Dandora, is HIV+, and is a member of Lea Toto. Sadly her brother died from complications of his HIV in 1999. She finished Form 4, O level, and is a great translator for the group! She also serves as a Community Health Worker for another organization in the neighborhood.
Margaret is married to Bakari Ali, also HIV+ and ten years older than she. She shared openly the struggles they have in raising their six children. Her oldest son, Dickson Mukasa, is 23 and has completed high school but does not have the fees to attend university. Her second child, a girl named Miali Bakari, is 19 has also finished school through Form four. Rashid Bakari, a young man of 17, dropped out of school in 2011 because of the high fees. Fatuma Bakari, her second daughter, is 15 and doing well in Form two. Ali Bakari, her youngest son, is 12 and in Class eight. Mwanamai Miali is 10 and in Class six. This daughter is currently receiving care from Lea Toto. Margaret and her family, including a one year-old grandchild, live all together in a one-room home with one mattress.
Her husband, Bakari, is unable to find work, and the family relies on the sales of her crafts. She was a founding member of the Visions Self-Help Group in 2003, but she personally has parted from Lea Toto after a misunderstanding with a social worker (her youngest is still a client). Paying school fees and rent (approximately US$30 per month) are the biggest challenges for them. Sometimes both Margaret and Bakari are sick from their HIV, so they hope their oldest son will secure work and provide for the family.
Margaret moved to the city after her and her husband’s families rejected them because of their HIV status, and the stigma in the rural communities is too strong to stay. She dreams they will someday be all together again.