Henry Mwitirere, Kenya, “I’m displaced but at least I can help other HIV-positive people”
Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
|Mwiterere and his family of seven children now live in a two-roomed house in Nakuru, but are still better off than most IDPs|
NAKURU, 28 April 2008 (PlusNews) – Henry Kamau Mwiterere works with the Academic Model for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV (AMPATH) as a facilitator for HIV support groups in Kenya’s western Rift Valley Province. Made homeless by the country’s post-election violence in January, he told PlusNews how he has managed to make a difference to displaced people living with the virus.
“I was diagnosed with HIV in 2002 and began work with AMPATH in 2004 in Burnt Forest [a town in the Rift Valley]; I had been trained in community health work by Pathfinder International [www.pathfind.org].
“After the election results were announced, I was at home with my wife waiting to watch the President being sworn, but soon the kids came running and told us houses were burning. We went outside and found all the surrounding houses were on fire.
“We ran to the [AMPATH] centre and soon I received news that my house was also burnt. We had to relocate to Burnt Forest IDP [internally displaced persons] camp, where we started to look for AMPATH patients, but soon my bosses told me many AMPATH patients were moving to Nakuru.
“They sent me here [to the Nakuru Showground IDP camp] to do some investigation and in the first three days of my stay here I found seven AMPATH clients. I took back the report and they decided that there was a need to trace more – we officially arrived here on 5 February and have so far managed to trace nearly 120 clients from AMPATH and several others from other organisations. Almost everyday we discover AMPATH clients and they also bring others.
“At the moment I can’t think about what happened to my property and my home – I can’t go back home because I have nothing. But the bigger issue is that the person who burnt my house is still there – he himself didn’t run away, so I’d be going back to the same enemy who set my house on fire and uprooted my iron sheets to put them on his house. If we went back we would only start fighting, so until the mistrust and resentment is dealt with we must remain here.
“Even though I am displaced, I am much better off than most people here. AMPATH has rented my family a two-roomed house here in Nakuru so I don’t have to stay in the camp. It is not like what I had in my old house, because I have a wife and seven children in such a tiny house, but I have tried to replace some of the things we lost.
“My wife and I were also lucky because we never missed any of our drugs, so we are at least healthy. I am very glad that at least I still have my job and I can help other displaced people.”