HIV/AIDS STATISTICS AS OF 2014:
(resources include: UNAIDS, National AIDS Control Council, AMFAR)
- 37 Million People Living with HIV in the World
- 26 Million of these live within Sub Saharan Africa (70%)
- 2.6 Million HIV-positive children live in SSA
- 13.3 Million Orphans Worldwide from AIDS
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
- Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected HIV+ region.
- 82% of all AIDS Orphans live in SSA
- 66% of new HIV infections occur in SSA
- In 2013 more than three quarters (66%) of all AIDS-related deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa
- Kenya has the 3rd largest population of people living with HIV in SSA (6.2%)
- 33,000 Kenyans died of AIDS in 2014 (compared to 85,000 in 2009)
- Kenya has 1.2 million children orphaned by AIDS
Despite these staggering statistics, efforts to curb the disease have been successful; in SSA, 30% children living with HIV are receiving anti-retroviral treatment.
A Community-Wide Response
Because the effects of HIV/AIDS on the community of Makindu are so widespread, strategies for prevention and intervention must be community-based and integrated. That is why MCC services include providing for the basic needs of the children within households in the community, thereby strengthening the fabric of the entire community. They provide seminars on HIV, advocacy, basic human rights, and organize income generating activity (IGA’s) trainings for our guardian families.
HIV Services in Makindu
MCC received a grant from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and in June 2003 started the very first AIDS project within Makindu. The Centre provides free HIV counseling and testing with trained counselors, AIDS education and awareness, an HIV library of materials, and a safe and supportive recreational facility for street kids… the hope was to entice them away from the dangers of the streets, to encourage them to get back in school, and to have a support system available to them. They also provide mobile voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services going out to rural areas, and offer night VCT along the highway for the many international and local truckers traveling through Makindu on the highway.
Because we located the facility along this main Nairobi-Mombasa highway, there are people stopping in from all over east Africa and Asia, who are traveling in from or to the Indian Ocean port. It became hugely popular and successful, so much so that we had to find another organization to keep it up and running, allowing us to focus our energy on our Children’s Centre. Thankfully, we were able to get the organization Hope WorldWide (another NGO who works specifically with HIV/AIDS) to take over the management of the HIV centre. It continues to be very successful, and is expanding. There are now other AIDS projects regionally that provide many services to coordinate with, and the attitude of the community has drastically changed in the past few years… AIDS is no longer such a deadly secret, there is less stigma, and much more hope.
MCC and AIDS
On a more personal and painful note, since the inception of our program, eleven of our MCC children have died, nine of whom died from AIDS. We knew these children were HIV positive, and knew they would not be with us long on this earth: Emma Rose was only 1 1/2 years old when she died; she loved just to be held, and would snuggle in as close as she possibly could. Her body was weak, but you could still feel the strength in her heart’s embrace. Mwasya died at age 6, and was ever mischievous, joking and smiling throughout, and always with a stubborn and strong resolve. We lost Kibibi at 16 years of age, who knew all about AIDS, and knew she would someday die of the disease. She became quite the advocate for the other children, encouraging them to continue in school, and to plan for their future (Kibibi was featured in the 1999 Eugene Register Guard series). This young lady was one very graceful, courageous, and resilient soul, with wisdom far beyond her years.
MCC first opened before the advent of ARV’s (anti-retrovirals) in Kenya, which have now drastically improved the odds of HIV positive children surviving longer.
In the interim, we loved these kids… and then, we loved them some more…what else could we do? They became mentors to us all, and provided added inspiration to our dedication to fight this disease. Theirs is now a great legacy: to help motivate and propel efforts to prevent more children from dying. Like Ryan White of the U.S. and Nkosi Johnson of South Africa, these young children have been our teachers, and wise, compassionate, and compelling guides — as well as the impetus for change on an individual and global level. They have helped us adults face this issue, encouraged us to grapple with the challenges, and to love and cherish those infected.
Thus, we honor all our children who have graced us with their presence… for too short a time:
- Emma Rose, November 11, 1998, died age 1 1/2 (AIDS)
- Mwasya Musyoka, December 2000, age 6 1/2 (congestive heart failure secondary to AIDS)
- Kibibi Salim, February 2, 2002, age 16 1/2 (pneumonia/DIC; AIDS)
- Ndunge Mutua, October 17, 2004, age 8 (acute typhoid; AIDS)
- Mutindi Ngwasi, September 2009, age 12 (snake bite)
- Faith Mueni, May 2010, age 12 (AIDS)
- Musengy’a Makundi, March 2014, age 15 (AIDS)
- Sila Tom, 2004, age 17 (diabetes/renal failure)
- Phoeb Mutuku, May 2013, age 12 (AIDS)
- Musyoka Matheka, March 2014, age 11 (AIDS)
- Wamuyu Rafia Musyoka, August 2014, age 13 (AIDS)