Working toward creating an HIV/AIDS free generation
Judy’s case was an extra ordinary one. When she got tested after years and years of engaging in unprotected sex with many different partners, she figured she would be a victim of her careless behavior. She was shocked when she turned out to be HIV negative. Looking back now three years after the incident, Judith Auma is still trying to understand how she escaped being infected with the virus. The 23 year old resident of Bangladeshi, the biggest informal settlement in Mombasa confesses to have lived a dangerous life.
At an early age of 13 she started running away from school, smoking bhang and joined a gang of robbers in her area. In March 2004, she served an eight month prison term at Shimo la Tewa correctional center.
After being freed, she became a sex worker targeting men from her neighborhood and went back to her old gang. They would rough up anyone who dared oppose them, including members of a local youth Community Based Organization (CBO) called Alfa and Omega.
Alfa and Omega is a CBO supported by the USAID AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance program, known as APHIAPlus. The members of Alfa and Omega mobilize people to go for HIV testing. After Judy got herself tested for the second time in 2009, again confirming that she is HIV-free, it changed her life completely and from then on her life took a different turn. She wanted to join the effort so she began to mobilize people from her neighborhood to go for HIV counseling and testing. It took some time, but through her engagement in the youth development program she was able to convince the group members and community as a whole that she had turned her life around.
In partnership with the APHIA-plus CBO, Alfa and Omega is geared toward creating strong youth networks and partnerships through education, awareness on economic empowerment, positive health/social living [HIV/AIDS] and environmental conservation in Mombasa.
Story by Rose Mwelu