Editor’s note: We received the following letter from a friend who is helping to establish the first-ever women’s hot-lines in Kenya and South Africa.
I want to thank those of you who have been supporting my people back home in Kenya— children orphaned by AIDS, families living with AIDS, community library efforts, and others. Your contributions have been life changing for the recipients of your generosity.
Here is what we have done recently:
1. Our children from single mothers’ homes and those orphaned by AIDS are doing great. Some have graduated from college, high school, and primary school. We pray that those who have graduated from college find jobs. Others are continuing their education at various levels. Those who need medical treatment are receiving it; they have a roof over their heads, food, clothing, and school supplies. Please let me know if you want to join us in supporting a child attending school in Kenya.
2. Our Tumaini (Hope) community library is up and running. Located in Nakuru town, the library is hosted by one of the local children’s homes. The children’s home was started by Poster Gladys Wekesa with her meager earnings as a teacher. It is accessible to children from the children’s home, the school, and the community. We still need books for the library. You may send books or cash to purchase books locally. In addition, we are looking for computers that we can use to install a virtual library and, eventually, provide internet connection. The address to send books is: Rev. Gladys Wekesa, P O Box 3758/-2100, Nakuru, Kenya.
3. In October, a friend in Kenya tried to commit suicide. Her husband abused her, exposed her HIV status to the public, and left her for another woman. My friend lost her baby in a miscarriage and stopped taking ARVs. In her cry for help, she sent me a text message telling me she was going to end it. I called her and spoke to her for three hours. After our call, I started looking for help for her in Kenya. I couldn’t get through to any of the hotlines posted on the internet. I found some women to talk with her individually. Today, she is recovering and has returned to work.
This experience reminded me of how many African women and girls are dying and suffering alone without anyone in whom to confide. As you may know, psychotherapy or counseling is very limited, and hotlines are non-existent in most African countries. This experience made me dream of starting a hotline for women and girls in Africa. We need to give women and girls someone to call, someone who can encourage them and support them in their time of crisis.
We are now in the process of starting hotlines in Kenya and South Africa. We will extend this work to shelters, placing children in schools, and instilling economic empowerment for survivors so that they can become independent. We are calling this project Usalama (safety/peace/good) African Women and Girls.
The Usalama African Women and Girls will aim to connect women and girls to legal, health, and educational services as well as temporary shelters. In Kenya, we are working with the Network of Survivors. In South Africa, we are working with Rev. Mpho Tutu and Tandi Tutu, daughters of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The first hotline will go live soon. (Contact MHI for information on how to make a contribution.)