Hopelessness, denial, anxiety, anger and depression clouded Rosemary Nyambura’s life when she first learnt that she had HIV back in 2006.
Rosemary, a CHS peer educator based at Ngorongo Health facility in Kiambu County, recounts how she lost hope and lived in fear until she started treatment in 2008 and met a peer counsellor who helped her accept her status and begin living positively. She cites her experience with the peer counsellor as her motivation to help others like her and thus began her noble cause as a peer educator. Rosemary acknowledges that being a peer educator has saved her life through increased self-awareness and given her a reason to live positively so as to motivate others like her. “I appreciate CHS because if it were not for this vocation, I would be a completely different person and I might have lost the battle long ago.”
Peer educators like Rosemary play a great role in promoting testing and counselling, treatment adherence, reducing HIV transmission and providing psychosocial support those infected and affected by HIV at community level. Through peer educators, more people have been tested for HIV, started on medication, adhered to treatment, joined psychosocial support groups, and disclosed their status to encourage others, while more children born to HIV positive parents have turned out negative. CHS supports facility peer educators through trainings, mentorship and remuneration.
Ngorongo Health Facility currently has four psychosocial groups which have together formed ‘Amberseudors of Hope Self Help Group’. The group engages in income generating activities such as growing spinach, kales and potatoes; whose proceeds are then re-invested and injected into their table-banking project. The group is also eyeing the Women Development Fund kitty to further achieve their objectives.
Individual Financial Empowerment
CHS supports psychosocial groups through training on financial empowerment and it is through such training that Rosemary got the impetus to start her own salon business at Ngorongo.Facilitated by Equity Bank, the training was geared at helping persons living with HIV to be more financially secure and thus improve their livelihoods.
Rosemary attends to a client at her hair salon in Ngorongo Shopping Centre
“I am very grateful to CHS because this training opened up my mind and my business has tremendously improved the quality of life for my family,” she says.
“CHS provided me with a stepping stone to freedom and has given me a whole new meaning to life. I am not only more empowered and confident as an individual living with HIV, but I have also acquired great knowledge and skills to enable me change other peoples’ lives.”