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Archive for the ‘Directors and Partners’ Category

Adrienne and Sister Gen Sister Gen is the Director of St. Joseph Shelter of Hope, which reaches out to the poor and the sick in Voi, Kenya.  

A trained nurse, Sister Gen became interested in HIV/AIDS nearly 20 years ago when delivering a baby for a woman who was infected.  She noticed sores that she had never seen before and saw that the baby was very sickly.  She wondered why and was told that the woman had AIDS.  She spent some time getting to know the mum, the first person she had met with AIDS.  

Soon after birth, the baby died.  This experience affected Sister Gen deeply and she decided she had to learn more about this disease. 

She studied everything she could and knew that she wanted to work among people with HIV/AIDS. At first, her superiors said no.  There were no nurses to replace her in the work she was doing.  But she kept asking and eventually, it became possible. 

Sister Gen took a sabbatical year and went to the Minnesota to study, braving a winter on the frozen shores of Lake Michigan to learn more about her life’s work.  

When she came back to Kenya, she started working at the Archdiocese of Mombasa Community Based Healthcare and AIDS Relief Project and then in 1999 went to Voi to open St. Joseph Shelter of Hope. 

Today, she oversees a huge outreach program, and onsite Voluntary Counselling and Testing office.

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Orphans

Girl in Classroom

The AIDS pandemic in Africa is killing off a generation of parents, leaving their children orphaned, often sick with the disease that killed them.

Grandparents step in when they can, as do Aunties, older siblings and neighbours.  But even they aren’t able to take care of all the orphaned children.

Forty five orphaned girls have been taken in by St. Therese House of Hope, one of our partners.  The girls there have a safe place to live, enough food to eat.  They are clothed, housed and given the daily ARVs they need to stay alive, thanks to our wonderful donors.

What stayed with me from my visit there was the joyfulness of the children and the staff. 

The girls sang and played.  They welcomed visitors and demanded cuddles.  They posed for endless pictures.

They’re resilient, these little ones.  We can learn a lot from them!

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Nurse Patrick Mwangi - Head of PMTCTI am so impressed with the level of dedication shown by the partners we work with in Africa.

Patrick Mwangi is the nurse in charge of the PMTCT Clinic at St. Mary’s Mission Hospital.  When I spoke with him, he was so eager to tell me about all the good work they’re doing and the babies’ lives they’re saving.

The clinic offers pre-natal testing, counselling and treatment as well as follow-up care.  Each month, they deliver nearly 800 babies.  Between 40 and 50 women will test positive for HIV in any given month.  Patrick and his staff are kept very busy!

And, while he is up on the latest treatments available in sub-Saharan Africa, he has to balance that with the wishes and needs of his patients.  It’s not always easy.  Because of the stigma associated with being HIV+  many women are afraid to let their status be known, even to their husbands.  Some women don’t want to  give birth by caesarean section, or formula-feed their babies, even though both those options help to  lower the risk  of passing on the virus.  They’re just too afraid that family and friends will find out.

Patrick is often frustrated by the fears and secrecy that surround this disease.  He knows the best course of action for his patients to take, but he respects them and allows them to make their own informed decisions. 

Fortunately, the Nevirapine that Pediatric AIDS Canada provides drastically reduces the risk of an HIV+ mother passing the virus on to her baby and can be given without fear of discovery.

It’s a good solution for an imperfect world.

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Staff of Archdiocese of Mombasa CBHC and AIDS Relief Project during a family fun day

One of our partners is the Archdiocese of Mombasa Community Based Health Care and AIDS Relief Project.  It’s a big name for a really big project. 

I was so impressed, when I visited in March, by the scope of this program.  There’s a clinic, home visits, support groups and a huge number of volunteers.

This model of home-based health care and outreach is one that combines professionalism with compassion and, yes, joy.

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After a long day of official business, Julie, our Executive Director, was able to take some time to visit and play with the girls at St. Therese.

Neither of us wanted to leave.

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                                  Dr. Fred on a house call 

Dr. Fred Nasio is head of the Infectious Diseases Clinic at St. Mary’s Mission Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

He looks after a huge number of patients with HIV, TB and/or malaria.  But he doesn’t let his workload get in the way of his humanity.  He likes to get to know his patients and even occasionally makes house visits.

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