BUILD UP TO WAD
According to the results from the KAIS (Kenya AIDS Indicators Survey 2007) report 7.4 percent of Kenyan adults age 15-64 are infected with the HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. According to the survey more than 1.4 million Kenyans are living with HIV and AIDS. 36% of Kenyan adults ages 15-64 have tested at least once for HIV and have received the results; nearly two thirds reported never having tested for HIV and are therefore unaware of their HIV status. 80% of all HIV positive adults have no idea that they are infected while 77% of Kenyan adults in all partnerships do not know their partners status. With the current changing trends in HIV infection there is great need for one know his/her HIV status.
To honor the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day “Universal Access and Human Rights” REPACTED in partnership with the Nakuru GK Prisons kicked off build up activities by organizing four days of free HIV Counseling and testing targeting the inmates, officers and their families and the surrounding community at the Nakuru GK prison. Prisoners are people too therefore it is a human right to access reproductive health information including information on HIV and AIDS. REPACTED visited the Male and female prisons, twice (over the first three days) and this time went a step further by staging an outreach at the wardens living quarters on the final day.
Bureaucracy had been a major hindrance to REPACTED’s access to the male prison mostly due to reasons and occurrences from the past and other places within the prisons department as a whole. This hurdle was finally surpassed and REPACTED was able to stage a comprehensive outreach on the 26th of November 2009 to encourage the prisoners and the wardens to go for the HIV counseling testing services sourced and made available by REPACTED and the Prisons department. At the first call for the inmates to be tested, someone in the crowd shouted “Hiyo ni ya wagonjwa” meaning that is for the sick. This was quickly responded to from within the audience itself during the post performance discussion with the conclusion downplaying the comment.
REPACTED’s magnet outreaches in the prison have developed into Talent Arena for the inmates who are welcome to present their skits and comedies including music. They get to develop prevention messages and present them through these various means to their fellow inmates. In the women’s prison inmates group themselves and even take time to rehearse their pieces capturing the theme of the day and targeting the woman and their lives at home in caring for their family. It is quite clear that they have learnt to empower each other and nurture their talents that they have within them as they prepare to go back to their homes and families. As they perform, they elicit discussions and comments surrounding risky behavior among the inmates, their status, effects and consequences including the risk they may put to their family members when they are released. They feel honored to see REPACTED members watching their various presentations as they do their best to outdo them. It has proved to be quite effective telling by the numbers achieved at the end of the four day initiative.
At the staff quarters REPACTED noted the various challenges that the wardens are faced with because of working away from their homes. Also there is stigma around the wardens and surrounding community’s perception on people going to get tested. According to some of them being seen by the community going for testing gave people the idea that they might be indulging in immoral behavior and thereby a small number turned up for the testing in the day but large numbers came for the same service during the moonlight activity.
By the world aids day the VCT councilors had managed to test about a total of 1214 inmates, officers and their family members.
MR. AND MISS RED RIBBON
On 28th of November the Nakuru town headed for Bontana Hotel for the Mr. and Miss red ribbon pageant. The event was organized jointly by Repacted Kenya assisted by Voice of Roses and the National Aids Control Council. Its participants were drawn from different community based organizations, indiscriminate of their status, background and age. The participants took up to three weeks preparing for the event and undergoing peer education training and care of the HIV/AIDS infected. When the participants finally took to the runway over the blue waters of the Bontana swimming pool it was nothing but colorful, not only in the dressing that they put on in line with their understanding of the course of the Mr. and miss red ribbon. The event attracted more than 1000 youths and young at heart within Nakuru town.
There were performances by groups such as the V.O.R dancers, comedies by the unique theatre, REPACTED’s Sawwa dancers & MC Jex among others. The M.Cs of the day Michael Kamunya (Playmaker group) and Collins Denis Oduor (Repacted Kenya) kept the audience on their feet.
The guest speaker of the day Miss Maureen Anyango gave a testimony of her life with HIV/AIDS since her infection at eighteen years of age, the discovery, her denial and her eventual acceptance of her status and the various challenges she faced from the community. She called out for people to get tested in order to discover their status and take appropriate steps to protect themselves. At the end of the event, Peter Okola and Mary Nyokabi were crowned Mr. and Miss Red Ribbon amidst screams, cheers and applause by the audience.
On 1 December REPACTED members joined the rest of the residents of Nakuru in a procession from the Rift Valley provincial office and went through the town mobilizing the members of the community to participate in this annual celebration of the fight of against HIV and AIDS. The procession which was led by the Salvation Army band included prison officers, the scouts, and various youth groups within the town such as FHOK, Genesis arts group, rescue reforms and Matatu association.
The Nyayo Gardens was the day’s platform of performance and speeches as the various groups took part in promoting the theme of the day as it echoed the call for universal access and human rights. Various stands were erected to explain to people of the various activities carried out by the organizations such as Red Cross Kenya, St Trizza, an orphan school in Nakuru town and the vct stand which was the focal point of our crusade as it also explained to people the importance of testing as well as breaking the stigma surrounding VCT. The V.C.T. tents were busy with long queues as people were eager to know there status.
It was also noted by Mr. Obi Obiero that the youth and children in community remain at risk in the community and needed be looked upon. he said glue being sold to the street children was affecting their decision making in the society and thereby indulging in risky behaviors that may lead to HIV/AIDS infections. The same was also echoed by the KANCO coordinator as he called intervention by the administration government to help stop the clubs that were allowing students under age into their premises and there by indulging in alcohol drinking and putting them at risk of infection.
At the end of day it was a successful event that attracted more than 2500 people to the grounds and tested more than 700 people.