Transforming lives, one small step at a time
“I was so down that I didn’t want to face my wife and children,” says Michael, as he reflects on his life just a few years ago.
At the time, Michael’s health was deteriorating from HIV, and his labor-intensive job at a construction site only paid Ksh. 250 (U.S.$2.50) a day. In order to feed his family, he would often skip meals and his medication to combat HIV. In addition, Michael’s wife and 9-year-old son were also HIV-positive and carrying high viral loads.
But then the family received an evaluation from the Nilinde project. Nilinde, which means “protect me” in Swahili, is being implemented by Plan International with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Nilinde works to not only link children and their caregivers to HIV testing, care and treatment services where needed, but also to sustainably improve the well-being of enrolled children and their households by creating family-centered and child-focused approaches. The program seeks to tackle the complex set of related circumstances that are creating and perpetuating vulnerability at the personal, household and community levels, so the devastating cycle of poverty can be broken.
Michael’s family was classified as highly-vulnerable. They were immediately given a food basket and linked with a community mentor mother to receive HIV treatment and care. Beyond antiretroviral medications, the household plan included a multi-pronged approach to stabilizing Michael’s family. His wife benefited from training and supplies to develop a kitchen garden to grow vegetables. His children received support that included school fees, life skills courses and participation in support groups.
Michael began to attend business and entrepreneurship trainings organized by Nilinde. In addition to training, he received a charcoal stove, a cooking pan, a ladle and a bag of charcoal. This helped him start a business making and selling food, pastries and tea from a small restaurant. He started making Ksh. 300 (U.S.$3.00) a day, which quickly grew to Ksh. 800-1,000 (U.S.$8.00-$10.00) a day. Michael was able to feed his family, pay school fees and save Ksh. 500 (U.S.$5.00) a week. He even hired two employees to help him.
Through the support of Plan’s Nilinde project, Michael was able to regain his health. His ability to provide for his family has helped his self-esteem as well. He hopes to expand his business in the coming years and continue his passion of supporting street children who beg for food at his restaurant.
“This is my opportunity to extend my hand to others the way someone supported me,” he says. “I am keen to mentor these street boys the best way I can.”
More than 60,000 households and over 150,000 children have been reached by the work of the Nilinde project to date.