In This Home, They Swallow More ARVs Than They Eat Food

Ngigi Kamau (in black T-Shirt), Women eNews Kenya reporter interviewing Hudson Matekwa, 35 years father of two living with HIV virus. Hudson and his wife Susan have two children, one of them HIV positive.

Matunda, Western Kenya October 6th 2011 – At around 4.35pm, Monday, September 19th 2011 in Matunda Western Kenya, I finished an interactive interview, as is always the case with the interviewing fashion of Women eNews Kenya, I ask Hudson Matekwa to ask a question or add anything else I may have left out in my interview and which he would want it known.

“Now that you have what you wanted (interview), would you mind leaving us some money to buy food” Matekwa, 35 years father of two living with HIV virus asks not feeling ashamed about it.

“Yes, I have a 200 shilling note here, its what am able to give but I hope this story will be a wakeup call to those in decision making positions in government” I tell him

“Tell them about these medicine they are giving us free of charge, we need food in order for us to adhere to the daily Anti RetroViral dosage” he pleads

Matekwa and his wife Susan Matekwa are a HIV positive couple; they have been married for 7 years and have two children, a HIV negative boy aged 5 years and a HIV positive girl aged one and a half years old

“We have a farm to plant but no essential facilities, last year was difficult because no one provided us with fertilizer and seeds, now I quarrel with my wife because there is no food” says the father of two.

Matekwa says since they began taking ARVs in 2007, they have never missed a dose, what they have missed is food to keep them strong after taking the drug.

“There is this day last year when I returned home from a group meeting, we had been given food at the meeting and thereafter I felt so full I was ashamed in view of the fact that I had not left anything to eat at home” Matekwa explains

On an ongoing basis, the family eats Ugali and Sukuma Wiki, this is alternated with Githeri, a mixture of maize and beans on other days, Matekwa however think what they eat is not the appropriate diet for him, his wife and daughter, all of whom are under anti retroviral treatment.

“Speaking of the food we eat, my boy is much better but for my daughter, I think I will need to work hard  to get her healthy food like fruits, right now she is dependent on Ugali and Githeri” says Matekwa.

Meshack Lupele, a Home and community based care officer at Matunda Jua Kazi, a community based organization in Matunda, Western Kenya

Meshack Lupele, a Home and community based care officer at Matunda Jua Kazi, a community based organization in Matunda, Western Kenya says as an organization, they have tried their best to ensure people under ARVs have access to better care and nutrition.

“We provide many things like clothes, farm inputs, eggs, chicken and even sheep” says Meshack

Matekwa is a recipient of a sheep given to him two years ago by Matunda Jua Kazi, the sheep continues to be his source of livelihood todate, he also receives eggs.

Meshack says Matunda Jua Kazi takes care of many people with various needs ranging from lack of food, lack of shelter, lack of medical services among others, he however says they have managed to cater for some while many other have not been well served due to lack of funds and other logistics like transport.

Meshack says issue of farm input like fertilizers and seeds need to be made available to people living with HIV virus and especially those under ARVs in Matunda since many them have places to practice farming but do not have the necessary inputs.

“Our opinion here in Western Kenya is that those who have come out to declare their HIV status and are dutifully taking their ARVs medication should be assisted to produce their own food” says Meshack

Matekwa’s wife, Susan Matekwa agree with Meshack adding that had they been given farm inputs like fertilizer and seed, they will be able to cater for basic needs like education for their child and their own medication.

“Even with my weakness, I still have the energy to go to the shamba, but without such essential inputs like water, fertilizer and seeds, my effort will be all in vain” she says adding that the changing climatic patterns has muddled an already unbearable life

“As Matunda Jua Kazi, we have been discussing about green house technology” says Meshack, “despite its high cost to put up, we believe this the best approach especially for people living with HIV virus in Matunda” he adds

“We have looked at its viability in terms of economic and social empowerment for people under ARVs and provision of food and we are convinced this is something donors need to consider as they disburse funds, money need to be set aside for these people to set up green house technology, they have the place, will and knowhow ” says meshack

Matekwa is a former security guard, he says after working for seven years, he resigned to take care of his ailing mother, all the other family members had died of what he calls a strange disease; his mother was to later on passed away.

He describes his neighbors as friendly, “They have never abandoned or discriminated us because of our HIV status, they are good neighbours” he says

Story and Photos by Ngigi Kamau

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One Response

  1. Hey, thanks for the good work you are doing. On that photo of the family with aids, the law requires you to blur the faces of the kids, may be the parents, because you may end up stigmatising the children unnecessarily…read Children Act if in doubt! Some organizations like CRADLE would go for your jugular if they saw that photo!

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