KONY NGIMANI means SAVE YOUR LIFE in the local Luo Language.
The group villages are located in Rusinga Island at Lake Victoria near Mbita, Suba District , Kenya , East-Africa. An estimated 40% of the Islanders are HIV positive.
Kony Ngimani Self Help Group was formed in 2003 by a team of 17 people as a post test support group of around 50 individuals with each person having at least 3-4 other persons who are dependants.
Kony members are living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Three volunteers Rose, Bernard and David had come out openly. They disclose their HIV and AIDS status in order to tackle the incidences of HIV/AIDS having seen that members of the community were suffering or dying from AIDS.
Many others were not willing to talk about nor seek assistance, so stigma and discrimination is widespread in the area. Now Kony members help the community understand the concepts related to HIV/AIDS infection and help the infected and affected to receive the necessary support as well as empowering preventive methods.
Since 2004 Kony Ngimani receives funds from the German NGO “Kranich - AIDS in Afrika” and has improved the quality of lives through initiating support for PLWAs and sustaining income generating activities.
To give an actual overview on the activities and challenges of the group, David and Bernard of “Kony Ngimani” explains to Elisabeth of “Kranich”:
How do you know your clients need assistance?
We visit them in their homes, we discuss with them their needs and refer them to the clinic. We pay for transport when he/she is too weak. Sometimes we go with them because of stigma, mostly they find their families not supportive. We give Home Based Care which is individual medical care which a trained nurse is doing.
Is there a difference between female and male clients?
Female clients are ready to discuss their problems freely, they get it easier to go to the clinic, but they need social support i.e. food, school fees, uniforms, material. Men find it difficult to be open. The fishermen of the Island start to talk free about usage of condoms or condom use risks, so awareness is growing. But some of the fishermen still deny and practice unsafe sex which to our language is “the Jaboya business” which means in our culture; Exchange of sex for fish. This is a risky practice, dangerous. Men, who do encourage this act of cheap sex for fish are many. A woman who sales the fish says: “Whichever he gives me in exchange I have to accept. I don `t mind if he uses condom or not. My main interest is to get fish or money.”
This is why we use the video “Deadly Catch” (www.irinnews.org) at the beaches where fishermen are.
What do you mean with risky behaviour?
Individuals having sex with a partner whose status is known to be HIV+ is graded high risk. Behaviour that we rank so is dressings of women in a manner that exposes private parts. This woman is likely to be raped or be sexually related than the other who does not.
We call it “medium risky behaviour” if youths are playing sex with an infected partner a condom may burst if not used correctly. Low risky behaviour is a proper discussion of sex matters between two partners before making love. Not risky is abstinence from sex.
What are your advocacy/awareness campaigns?
We visit beaches, we show the film and the discussions after arise between men, sometimes men and women together. We go to our local Primary schools, at one time we reached 181, 120 boys and 61 girls. We discuss and demonstrate the use of condoms. During the session we realize that orphans are mostly affected. One said: we are very greatful for what you have come to tell us. But I would like to request Kony Ngimani to educate our grandparents for they are the ones that send us girls to go and “look for sugar”, meaning to go with men in order to bring money for sugar.
What are your lessons learnt and your future plans?
Good nutrition can prolong life, with an empty stomach a PLWA cannot take medicaments (ARVs). So we shall continue food support with 10 more added to the list. We introduce kitchen gardening and continue on our community farms. We even will rent more land.
Behaviour change is a gradual process that takes time. We announce proper and consistent use of condoms and provide them. We pay transport to clinic for 40 PLWAs. We conduct trainings on personal hygiene for PLWAs and orphans.
Youths are the best advocates for change. We involve them into our daily activities and want to build a meeting place with them.
Group members of KONY NGIMANI sit in their office for meeting, David Odhiambo is the address partner. E -mail: email@example.com
David `s story: A Call to Life of Service….
I have been living with the HI-Virus, that causes AIDS for 20 years. My wife died of HIV/AIDS in the year 2001 and left me with two children, the last one died when he was nine years old, the first one, a nineteen years old boy is living with HIV/AIDS. That `s why I am saying that I have been HIV+ for the past twenty years! What makes my wife death so sad is the knowing now that HIV/AIDS is so easy to avoid.
Youth in the office studying posters after group discussion
Participants before they assemble for play and discussion
Open Forum Discussions and Advocacy at the beach site of Lake Victoria , where all Islanders come together: this time the film: “Deadly Catch” is shown, www.irinnews.org.
Joshwa presents the play of the youth. In the background the audience following keenly. The play was about proper and consistence condom use.
Kony Youth presenting a poem on behaviour change. They wear the t-shirts with writings they have created. Advice and sponsoring were by “Kranich”. The writings are: I am great. Ask me why. Consistence and Proper condom Use.
I care. Do you!!!
It is our hope that our youths shall be changed from such messages
A PLWHA who had been bedridden has come up and can now walk after the assistance of Kony Ngimani. He had lost hope in life and had been left by his family members to wait for his death. At the time Kony Ngimani stepped in to help he was very weak, diarrhoea bearing, very thin and could not walk due to swollen legs. Kony took him to hospital and was put on ARVs (funded by Kranich).
K ony Youths ready for an advocacy to a local primary school. They wear their shirts on AIDS-prevention.
During the open discussion many were convinced to take condoms. Kony Ngimani distributes 3000 pieces each session.
A demonstration how to use condoms
Home visit at a client`s home by David who is the address partner of Kony.
Orphans support: Julie is giving the uniform to the total orphan when the teacher is looking. Wanyama primary school.
Farm plot of the Kony Ngimani Group: First a fence must be constructed to keep cows and goats away. Funded by “Kranich” and DED.
(German development service, www.ded.de)
Helping together to prepare seed beds for tomatoes. Watering by hand and by water pipes (help ed by sponsors).
Good harvest of tomatoes. Each group member gets some for eating and selling on the local markets
Orphans participate in shelling the maize. This maize is also harvested from the Kony farm and is used to support orphans
Abandoned orphans. They have no homes, no parents, no relatives, no schooling