Kenyan church rejects social stigma, reaching out to HIV/AIDS victims

In this post: nutritional support as a tool to stop HIV/AIDS

This is the last story in our blog series about FH”s strategy to stop HIV/AIDS in some of the world”s most vulnerable places. So far, we”ve looked at:

“The group members have now accepted their status and are confessing that they are not dying … but living to take care of their children.” -report on an HIV/AIDS support group in Kiamiriru, Eastern Kenya

This plant nursery is on the property of the Kiamiriru Methodist Church of Kenya — a church that has defied social norms and has answered God”s call to care for the sick and outcast.

HIV-positive people travel very far distances to participate in this support group which meets both spiritual and physical needs. Participants grow vegetables (like spinach and greens to make sukuma wiki and trees for improved nutritional health of themselves and their families, and the surplus is sold to provide income for these resource-poor families.

FH gave these chickens to the support group, providing greater nutrition and income generation for HIV-positive members.
Here, an FH/Kenya staff member buys eggs from a member of the Kiamiriru support group.
As part of the support group, FH also gives business advice and interest-free loans to people wishing to start small businesses.
HIV is a virus that still carries an incredible stigma around the world — many infected people are abandoned by their families once their “status” is disclosed. But this church in Kenya has reached beyond the cultural norms to offer compassion, grace and practical help all in the name of Jesus. Here, support-group members show clothes donated to them by church members.

Leading by example, the church minister visits the support group regularly to share God”s word.

“They feel loved and treated with dignity,” the report says. “They are strong, and most have no self stigma.”