When Peter first found out he had HIV, he thought all hope for the future was lost. He was 13 years old, he had been infected since he was born, and now he said, “there is nothing for me but death.”
Through the AMPATH care program in Kenya, 15,000 children receive HIV care and medicines that keep them alive and healthy and growing into adulthood. But they need hope too.
Peter found that hope in a support group at his clinic that was just for kids like him:
“The group became my family,” he said. “The only place where people understood the burden I was carrying, the only place where I had friends who believed that I could go far, that I could live.”
We want to offer monthly peer support groups at each of the AMPATH clinics in Kenya for adolescents just like Peter – older children and youth who have learned that they have HIV. These groups change children’s lives by offering a safe place to talk, build friendships, and learn how to cope with their illness.
I really, really, really want to offer support groups for my kids in Kenya. They need them and want them desperately. They deserve a safe space in which to be together in this crazy, beautiful, daily struggle to grow up with HIV. I have been very frustrated by my lack of time and money to make this happen for them. But — thankfully — I have friends who want to stand in the gap for my kids and help give kids like Peter a place to find hope. I write this in the hope that you might want to join in too.
Here are our brilliant plans…
I carried across the ocean some lovely items from Kenya. If you purchase Hadithi Handicrafts – made by hand by Kenyan artisans, many of whom have HIV themselves – we can start to build up what we need to make these groups happen for the HIV-infected children at our clinics. A clinic needs at least $1,000 per year to run the groups that offer their kids a place to find hope for the future. I am hoping we can do that together.
“Hadithi” means “story” in Kiswahili. Our crafts have a story – they make it possible for Kenyan children to understand how HIV is just one part of the story of who they are and who they will become.
Aimee Carroll is selling hand-beaded leather sandals and beads shaped by hand from Kenyan clay and fired in lovely colors. If you are interested, contact her about the Hadithi Handicrafts. We can even have made items in the sizes and colors that you prefer.
And we have an option for men too! The dapper Dom Draper is spear-heading #ThePocketSquareProject with bright kitenge pocket squares for the well-dressed gentleman. What is more fun in men’s fashion than a colorful pouf of a pocket square in your jacket pocket? (Ok, I am also a big fan of the bow tie, but we’ll start with pocket squares for now.) Fun squares of crazy and colorful Kenyan fabrics. If you aspire to join #ThePocketSquareProject, talk to Dom.
All proceeds from any Hadithi Handicrafts we sell go directly to supporting AMPATH support groups for adolescents with HIV in Kenya. You can also donate at ampathkenya.org/donate and indicate “Vreeman Hadithi” or “The Pocket Square Project” in the memo or comment section.