Around 34 million people are currently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and over 35 million have died of HIV/AIDS. On Tuesday, Dec. 1, World Aids Day, we bring awareness to this issue.
Beatrice was once bedridden, living with untreated HIV/AIDS in her one bedroom mud house. Now, Beatrice is able to walk and volunteers with Maisha’s Living Positive Program in the Nyalenda slums. Elizabeth was once too weak to sit up in bed due to her untreated HIV/AIDS. With the help of volunteers, she worked her way into a wheelchair and then graduated to crutches. Now, she is able to walk without assistance and sells charcoal in the area as a source of income. Merab was once a very sick widow living with HIV/AIDS. Now, she is one of Maisha’s staff members and is able to give hope to people who are in similar situations. Joseph once lay in bed all day because of sickness due to HIV/AIDS. Now, he works and is often found praising Jesus in his living room.
Many people in Nyalenda, the largest slum in Kenya’s 3rd largest city of Kisumu, have similar stories of hope that serve as a testimony of God’s love and provision. The area is only about a 30-minute car ride from Maisha, but paints a very different picture from life in the village.
High rates of HIV/AIDS, a large number of infected orphans and widows, high drug and substance abuse rates, teen pregnancies, and school dropout keep the poverty level in Nyalenda high. Sharp, jagged shack metal roofs, overheated homes, cramped quarters, open sewage and trash line the streets and contribute to poor health.
In an effort to break the cycle, Maisha started the Living Positive Project, which provides assistance for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS or living in extreme poverty in Nyalenda. Many of Maisha’s Living Positive caregivers were once bedridden themselves. They are now able to travel around the slums from house to house each day helping their friends and neighbors by praying, witnessing, counseling, providing medical care and supplying them with groceries. They also monitor ARV adherence, nourishment, water, sanitation and children’s educational progress for each household. Recently, Maisha was also able to begin a feeding project in the slums. Maisha provides over 40 men, women and children in the slums with a nutritious meal.
Maisha has up to 45 clients in Nyalenda and the majority are HIV positive. Without proper nutrition, health care and medication, people are at a higher risk of dying. Even relatively minor things like stress can cause their condition to worsen. One of the main stressors is their financial situation.
Maisha assists Nyalenda residents to start their own small scale businesses to create a source of revenue for themselves and their families. This development process is being refined as Maisha learns what type of businesses work best for sick people in the slums.
When people visit Maisha, they typically spend a portion of their trip in the slums and get to witness God’s faithfulness and miraculous works firsthand. Teams spend the morning in the slums doing house visits with Ian, one of Maisha’s staff members. At each house, they provide an encouraging word for the person and share the Gospel.
Vintage Pastor Darrell Haley and Christa Humphreys, a volunteer from Guthrie, Oklahoma have been busy compiling a book filled with stories from the Nyalenda ministry. The book will be available for purchase in the coming weeks with all proceeds benefiting Living Positive.
“The progress I have seen in the slums could be calculated in numbers, days, expenses or clients; but the real progress I have seen—the one that REALLY matters—is that so many of these people have found their worth in Christ, and will live FOREVER rejoicing with Him,” Humphreys said.
“They may be HIV positive, but that does not define them. I encourage you to pray that the people of Nyalenda will continue to be receptive to the Gospel and the help Maisha is providing, and that God grants the Nyalenda team and every mission group the wisdom we need to truly make a difference.”
The Maisha Project encourages you to donate to the Living Positive Project today for World AIDS Day and help make a difference in the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. Make a donation at https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/TheMaishaProject_1/livingpositive.html.