n my small village of Aremiet in Isiolo district in Kenya, HIV/AIDS has not been accepted by the local community as a realty that is affecting everyone regardless of age, gender, class, etc. Any person that contracts the virus is treated as an outcast and he/she is rejected by not only his family and relatives but also by the entire community. In the past, the Turkana community abandoned people with chronic diseases and people with disabilities in thick forests and left to starve to death or be eaten by wild animals because they were regarded as evil and a punishment from their God, Akuj.
Today, people who are infected by HIV/AIDS are regarded as dirty, evil and that they are punished by God due to something they did. They are blamed for contracting the disease and therefore ousted by the community. these infected people get built a small hut outside the compound. Someone brings small food once a day. this food is insufficient to a HIV/AIDS infected person due to the nutritional needs they have to meet due to their condition. no one bathe them, nor talks to them, no one comes near them, nor gives them hope and no one takes them to the hospital. the nearest hospital is in Isiolo town, 15km from Aremiet village. these patients cannot access medical services they badly need due to the distance of the hospital. the mode of transportation is by foot.
These patients are left to die. They die quickly due to lack of medical attention, lack of proper nutrition and the pain and hurt of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for by their families, relatives and the entire community.
Turkana people are ignorant and don’t have knowledge of the virus because:
They don’t have any form of sex education.
They don’t know the reality of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and how they are contracted.
They don’t know any safe methods of preventing HIV/AIDS and other STDs.
They don’t have any Testing and Counseling facilities in the villages.
They don’t have facilities where they can access free Antivirus drugs and other important drugs for an infected person.
I wrote this article so that I can focus the eyes of the world and the Organizations that are trying to fight HIV/AIDS to local villages in Kenya. There are so many villages of the minority tribes and the marginalized communities like turkana that need help on how to prevent HIV/AIDS and other STDs and how to live with the Virus if infected. Testing and counseling facilities should be introduced in the villages to meet these needs. our governments and Organizations only concentrate their energy, time and resources in fighting HIV/AIDS in the cities and major towns, forgetting that if the village people are not taken care of, they will migrate to the cities and major towns due to the on-going RURAL-URBAN migration and in the process bring HIV/AIDS virus to towns. Other than that, the villages will be wiped out due to lack of information on HIV/AIDS virus and STDs.
In a case study, Ayeyo* 17, was a young woman from a very poor family in our village. she was determined to finish her primary school and join high school if she could because she believed so much in education. But she could not go to high school due to lack of school fees from her poor parents. after primary school, she went to work as a house help in the nearby town of Nyahururu in Laikipia district. she told her mother that she couldn’t bare to see them waking up hungry and a day ending without food in their mouth and the next day it will be the same for 2-3 days. she couldn’t bare to see them living from hand to mouth in extreme poverty. There she worked and provided for their large family with the little salary she got from her employer. But after 3 months, she was raped by the man of the same house she worked for and got infected with HIV/AIDS virus. after sometimes, she felt so sick and weak and they sent her home without anything and without her dignity. When she came back home, her family realized that their daughter had mysterious disease according to them and they isolated her. Ayeyo got seriously ill, she was depressed coz the same family she sacrificed for abandoned her when she needed them the most. her family and the community feared that if she stayed together with them, they will get her mysterious disease from mosquito bites, touching her, talking with her or from sharing plates with.
She contracted malaria that eventually killed her. What disappointed me about her death is the fact that he family isolated her. she needed them at that time. If they had information about what to do in case of a sick person, they could have helped her out. If they had health facilities around, they could have given her antivirus that could have boasted her immune and educated the family and the community on how to care for a HIV positive patient. that 17 yr old young woman could have been alive by now if they had taken care of her. she is one of the many turkana young people who die like dogs because of lack of proper knowledge on HIV/AIDS.