Since 2005 Advantage Africa has been working with Rescue Team for HIV & AIDS in Kibwezi District of Eastern Kenya to support families affected by HIV & AIDS through a long term Home Based Care project. Adults and children who test positive for HIV are supported by Rescue Team to come to terms with and understand and accept their diagnosis. They are visited at home to develop a plan for their future including the provision of factual information, medical and nutritional advice, and psychological support especially concerning the effects of stigma and discrimination. For people who are suffering more severe sickness with AIDS and its associated opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis and meningitis, Rescue Team assist with referrals to hospitals but also help the families cope by providing food packages and medication.
Rescue Team also form village self-help groups where people can find mutual help and advice to tackle the isolation and fear people with HIV often experience.
Accessing medication by income generation at home
One of the more recent initiatives within the home based care project is to offer beneficiaries practical ways to increase family incomes at home. People with HIV require anti-retroviral drugs and the costs of visiting health centres to get these drugs adds an addition financial burden to families who are already struggling to make ends meet. Advantage Africa has therefore found that income generation at home is a significant practical help to families affected by HIV. Poultry rearing was identified as a suitable means of income generation and training in poultry care was organised with the local agricultural extension service. The local demand for eggs is good and the local chicken breeds, if kept properly, will reproduce naturally and thus allow chicken numbers to grow over the longer term. Eggs can be sold for cash or used to supplement the families’ diets. As chicken numbers grow some birds can also be sold for meat.
When I visit the rural homes around Kibwezi I sometimes wonder how on earth people survive. The area is so dry, and the infrastructure almost non-existent with no electricity and scarce water sources. But somehow the families seem to make these small poultry projects work. People earn that little bit of essential cash they need for medicines, and the great thing is that when I visit the same home again, the poultry numbers have increased, and the family is more self-sufficient.
Rob Aley, Advantage Africa - Kenya Programme Manager