The Kwimenya Community Support Group is made up of 25 people living with HIV (PLHIV), who underwent and successfully completed a one-year treatment literacy class offered by CHS trained Peer Educators at Muriranjas Comprehensive Care Centre (CCC). After graduation in 2011, the members of the class were ready to re-join the community and formed a community support group where they begun working together in income generating activities (IGAs), as well as community outreach activities where they sensitised the community on HIV and PMTCT.
The members of the group started a merry-go round (familiarly known as a chama), where each member of the group made a pre-agreed monetary monthly contribution, and a member of the chama benefitted from these funds every month. From these contributions, Kwimenya Community Support Group members bought three chickens each, which were to be reared into profitable egg-farming ventures. The leadership of the support group visited members every month to ensure that they were taking good care of the chicken, and were running their businesses well.
When the hens started laying eggs, each member was responsible for marketing and selling their own produce. Parts of their profits were taken back to the group during the monthly meetings and invested in growing their IGA.
Six months after graduating in treatment literacy, the group wrote a proposal to TOA Fund requesting funding for community mobilization on HIV prevention, HIV testing and counselling, and PMTCT. Their proposal was successful and the support group received Kshs 350,000. The group used the resources to implement HIV prevention, Testing and counselling, home delivery and adherence to ART treatment at community level. They completed the work, submitted reports to TOA Fund and were listed for more funding. The group then opened two bank accounts that received deposits for their monthly and annual savings respectively.
The continued success of the Kwimenya Community Support Group can be attributed to the members’ unity. Every year, they hold a party where they review each other’s health, economic development and well being, as they reflect back on the gains they have achieved during the course of the year.
Some of the support group members have proactively grown their businesses and have managed to purchase cows and goats to diversify their income.
In March 2015, Murang’a County Governor Hon. Mwangi wa Iria, met with the group and issued tissue-culture banana seedlings to the group members. One member was given the responsibility to grow and germinate the seedlings and distribute them to other members of the group for planting.
CHS support for community health
CHS acknowledges the importance of adherence to treatment, to the success of antiretroviral therapy, and has a dedicated Adherence and Psychosocial Support (APSC) team. CHS supports community units to strengthen linkages between health facilities and the community, as well as establishment of community based psychosocial support groups for PLHIV to help them integrate within the community while receiving peer support. CHS helps groups such as Kwimenya establish income-generating activities to ensure their sustainability.
By the end of 2014, CHS was supporting 10 community units, 31 community based groups to promote adherence and 2,090 PLHIVs from 25 Psychosocial Support Groups.