By Evanson Njeru, Founder/Exec. Director, COMPASSION CBO
Compassion for Joy
Compassion CBO has been on the frontline when it comes to fighting HIV/AIDS in the Nairobi slums and its environs since 2005. It’s in one of the slums at Githogoro where mother-to-child transmission is very high and as a result, many children are living with HIV/AIDS.
One girl has borne the brunt of the pandemic and has come out strongly to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS to other children in many public arenas.
For example, on World Aids Day 2012, Joy recited a poem about HIV/AIDS in an open air public meeting; she was at that time age 7.
Her feeble body said it all.
Her name depicts life full of joy, but she has not known joy since she was born.
Now age 9, she spends more time in the hospital bed than she is spending in school. Joy was orphaned after losing her father four years ago – he was the only breadwinner [in this poor family] and he worked with a security company. Joy was left with her poverty-stricken mother after the departure of her father.
She is the last born in the family of five and now her health, of late, has deteriorated and needs medical attention from time to time. They live in a single room in the slum which measures 10 x 10 feet -- Joy's mother struggles each month to pay the rent for this small room.
Many a times they have no food to eat, but Joy is required to eat a well balanced diet if she is to live. Each and every day she survives on antiretrovials (ARVs) which land in her empty stomach.
An Ambassador of Hope for Other Children
We are appealing for help for Joy to help her meet medical attention and to prolong her life and return her back to school to live to her dreams of becoming a teacher and bring her the true meaning of her name.
I believe we can help her live a joyful life.
Moreover, Joy has become an ambassador of good hope to many children living with HIV/AIDS, and stood up above others, despite her age, to encourage other children.
Without support, she will not be able to continue with her education like other children.
Education - Powerful Tool Against Dangerous Superstitions
Illiteracy [and lack of awareness] has compounded the issue of mother to child infection, leaving many children infected especially in the slums where illiteracy is very high.
Many parents believe HIV/AIDS is a curse or form of witchcraft.
As a grassroots organisation we are enrolling every child in the school to make sure every child gets educated and this is bearing fruits to reduce the level of illiteracy. We make sure every child goes to school, regardless of background and status.
After nine years in the slum, a new generation is coming along with great potential and are able to explain to their parents or guardians some of the issues that are affecting them.
Our vision by 2020 is to have reduced illiteracy in the region by a big margin thus bring a new well educated generation.
From time to time we give food rations to children which they take with them to their homes. This gives us avenues of sharing with them and showing them the importance of education.
Many children have being encouraged and have risen to the occasion whereby they have embraced education.
Since 2005, our children's centre has enrolled over 500 children and some are now in secondary school. Regardless of the status of a child, we make sure no child is discriminated against.
Compassion Children's Centre Enables Poor Children to Receive Education
Many children in Kenya have no opportunity to attend the school due to lack of school uniforms – which is a must and a precondition for every child to be admitted to any public school.
Our children's centre runs a full primary school education.
We start by eliminating the precondition of school uniform; this enables many children from poor backgrounds in the slums to easily access education before we look into the ways of equipping them with a school uniform to meet the government requirements, for we operate under the rules and regulation of ministry of education.
Please consider helping Compassion CBO to help Joy and others like her: