|Shujaa goes ‘creative’’ in HIV Prevention Efforts|
At first glance, one would think the parcels are biscuits packed in beautiful gift wrappings. Participants later get shocked when they find the beautiful packages containing condoms! The condoms are packed so neatly and nicely that no one would ever guess what lies inside. Lena Watiri, a volunteer at HOPE worldwide Kenya explains: “As a prevention-related program, we are doing everything we can to ensure that everyone is aware of their right to, and how to maintain good health. Whether a member of a high risk population or not, every-one is entitled to protection and care,” she noted matter-of-factly.
The Shujaa Program has been working with hundreds of Most-at Risk Populations an in an effort to educate them on HIV-prevention measures. Such measures include: proper condom use, negotiation for safer sex, and entrepreneurship skills. In Eldoret, the Center of HOPE is situated strategically on the Kampala- Rwanda highway and attracts truckers and sex-workers, among others. Truckers and sex-workers are the major target group of the program. One beneficiary expressed: “It’s clear that these people (Shujaa Team) care for us and our families.”
Lena displays one of the condom packs in her office Lena distributing the condoms packs to truckers drivers
The Center supplies about three cartoons of condoms in a day. The idea of packing the condoms in gift wrapping is innovative and welcome. It makes the condoms more appealing and the sex workers enjoy picking them. A client to the sex-workers at Paradise Bar, a local joint for sex workers within Eldoret Town, lauded the Shujaa Program saying that the sex workers carry their own condoms thanks to the training they get.
In an Entrepreneurship Skills Training held at Half London Bar and Restaurant in Eldoret, interested sex workers learned skills on how to start small-scale businesses and be self-reliant. Most of them had earlier benefitted from a peer-educators’ training where they were empowered to educate their peers on HIV prevention. Ken Abundo, a HWWK staff facilitated the training where more than twenty former- sex workers participated. They said they enjoy working with Shujaa since they are not subjected to discrimination or ridicule. “Shujaa treats us with dignity and involves us in their activities. We have learned a lot from them,” said Rachael shortly after the training.
Some of the participants of the training