October 09, 2009


Wow Cannot Put all Heroes on Blog!

Immaculate is the current Chairperson of KIWAKKUKI (on the right) She is leading a leader of the government and HIV/AIDS programs into KIWAKKUKI. These positions on the board are totally voluntary, and require an immense amount of time and dedication. Hats off to these volunteers who have the ultimate task of making more than 5,000 people happy. Wow!

Dafrosa Itemba, Executive Coordinator and Agnes Urassa, past Chairperson of KIWAKKUKI "discuss" topics at a members meeting

Cuthbert Swai arrives in Moshi after traveling two hours on a motorbike (pikipiki) from the Rombo District, over two hours away. He is bringing his district reports and it has been very dusty. The rains never fell.

Eunice Maringo is head of the finance department, but is acting coordinator whenever Dafrosa is out of town. Somehow she makes miracles happen

Antipas Mtalo leads heroic efforts to lead the VCT efforts at KIWAKKUKI. His staff, including Mama Changali and Anna Malwa provide intense counseling followed by voluntary testing

Agnes Ngowi and Mama Changali share a hug at her retirement. Agnes Ngowi has dedicated herself to the psyosocial care of children affected directly by AIDS for many years.

Theresia heads up education. She is just amazing, funny, smart, and has great ideas about how to get new initiatives going with HIV prevention and now looking at co-infections that are plaguing the region

Cannot have favorites in this group. But Verynice has to rank in the top group. Not only does she willingly lend her reading "screens" to everyone, run out of gas in her little old VW bug on "Main Street" (because it was too expensive to add more), but her heart breaks every time an unsponsored child comes into KIWAKKUKI. Her terrific sense of humor belies a heart of gold.

I would hate to think about what KIWAKKUKI would do without Steven. He documents everything, takes tons of pictures, interprets language of the deaf, helps others with computer issues, seems to know every sponsored school child, but takes care of his own family with love and care. If we could clone more young men to be like Steven, the world would definitely be a better place.

When I first arrived at KIWAKKUKI, I had no idea that I would come to love Mr. Ndano so much. He has endured suffering and grief, hardships that most of us cannot imagine, yet kept an immaculate lab, educated himself about HIV/AIDS, and become a father to many of us...Africans and Mzungus alike. Ayoube, well he will have his own special picture, and his own special place in heaven. Though thank goodness he isn't dead! Ayoube drives carefully everyone around. He is kind, compassionate, never ever complains, and just wants to make you happy. I am quite sure that Ayoube has no enemies, and thousands of friends. Mary Shuma...I think that is her first name...no one ever says Mary, it is always Mary Shuma, what an addition to KIWAKKUKI. She is thoughtful and has brought a powerful program through Life and Living and then you see Steve sneaking in the shot.

What are the characteristics of a Chagga Queen? I have never actually seen a job description, but, if anyone wanted one, I think that Lydia would have to be the model. I have seen her demonstrate condoms (male and female) to groups of over 300, shame a village for not taking care of an HIV-positive mentally disabled mother (widowed, raped, left in a ditch), be a gracious hostess, dance the dance of the Masaai (and be given honorary Masaai queen position), talk to school children, talk to teachers, help with surveying, be the Street Leader, and carry herself always with grace and composure, even under great stress. She is definitely "Lydia the Queen of My Heart"

This group posed for a shot demonstrating the work of the new Information Centre. The special people, Ndosi (driver, Eli (Mr. Everything) John Mwita (or Mwita) Information specialist and founder of the PLHA's Center for Hope, and Juliana, are glue in the group. They provide the helping hand that makes people trust the organization, brings them in for assistance, feeds them, helps them and tries to send them on their way with new information. That is a very hard task in a city that is extraordinarly poor, with or without HIV.

The Grande Dame of KIWAKKUKI is the beautiful Dr. Sabina Mtweve. She is a dedicated pediatrician at KCMC who has now thrown herself into the world of public health. But, she was one of the founders of KIWAKKUKI, and has been a loyal member ever since. She is a stickler for details, and all of us have had to answer to her. That is why we love her! (or one reason)

I would add my daughter into every picture, but it would be unfair given the length of time that KIWAKKUKI has been in operation. But, with another picture of Eli, and CAB board member, Memory Project Member and friend (see feature in September) Melkizedik, the trio look perfect.

The latest VCT tester, Elizabeth has made her mark on the world with her laughter, happiness and outreach. VCT is the key to HIV prevention. Thank goodness we have such a dedicated team.!

Mama Kishe single handedly has created the memory work in KIWAKKUKI. Initially, with no English speaking skills, she taught herself 40 words a night directly from an English Bible. But stored in her brain were the names and locations of hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children who needed help. Not the only answer, but an important piece has been doing memory work, making family trees, finding pictures of family, making wills, finding birth registration and being registered as orphans. Long into the night, Kishe waits for a mother to give birth-too late to get to the hospital and with only she and a few other family members to help. What does she want in return? Help for her memory kids. No more, no less.

Romana isn't behind bars, but they symbolize the importance of her work. She is the secretary for KIWAKKUKI and years of records are secured behind her. How can she type for so many people? We don't know, but somehow it gets done, and she is still smiling and laughing.

Well, one reason that Romana doesn't just give up is because Rayline is behind her copying and collating, and stapling and saying, "How can I help"? Stacks of paper get sorted, and reports are ready. amazing.

Lui in the middle of children. How appropriate. Lui has raised her own, some relatives, served the city, and still dedicates her life to the children. Try to remember a sponsored child's name... Lui knows. Ponder an unponderable question about how to save a group of children...Lui has the answer. Cry, Lui's shoulder is there. Lui-for such a quiet person, she is one unbeatable woman.

Here are the money raisers, and sneaking in are those who love to be in pictures. Alex (thank goodness joined finance) Ayoube who has gotten himself in another picture, Neema, a great salesperson (fundi)...what do you want mama? I will get it for you. The next day it is at the KIWAKKUKI shop at just a fraction higher than at the wholesale place, but saving you a lot of trouble and energy. And the smile? Neema means Grace. Perfect! Then Eunice. Mary Mallwa, who for years held down finance with Eunice and didn't go crazy, and finally Dafrosa.
Many people are left out of this blog, and they are all unsung heroes! I will keep trying.
More pictures to come!

October 05, 2009


Many times our KIWAKKUKI blogs contain sad stories. Children who die too young, parents who die and leave their children orphans, overloaded poor persons standing in line for 10 KG of what we call "corn pellets", in order to make a month of food, trying desperately to get your work done with no power, with the deadlines due and no internet, with no transport to get to the training site....etc, etc, But today my story is a happy one. If only short term. Our Judith... featured in one of the previous blogs, saw a wonderful pediatrician this week. She and Dr. Annie connected. They were able to talk, to be honest about adherence and the problem of stigma at school. Of course, no problems are solved, but at least Judith found a young doctor who understands and with whom she can talk. She is happy to see her again, and I feel confident that her own confidence has been boosted by Dr. Annie. It won't be any easier to face her cruel fellow students, but at the least, she will be determined to work and to prove that she can make it in this very difficult world of being HIV-infected and a girl in Africa. We're cheering for you Judith!