I dared to DREAM again
23-year-old *Jane Awuor is in her final year of secondary education. While it is unusual to be in secondary school at her age, the mother of one who became an orphan at a young age is determined to prosper in life and realize her dreams of becoming a doctor.
Jane was forced to drop out of school due to frequent lack of school fees. When DREAMS came calling she was involved in the small business of charcoal burning and making sisal ropes for fishermen at her village in Gembe Ward, Homabay County.
Living with her step mother did not make things any easier as she was expected to cook and baby sit her younger siblings whenever her step mother was away. This further exposed her to peer pressure to get married.
Initially DREAMS was only able to cater for part of her school fees. She, however, was not in a position to raise the balance, which again affected her education. It was at this point that the Constituency and County officials intervened, agreeing to give her bursaries to cover the fee balance.
Suffice to say, Jane did not escape the snare of early pregnancy, and by the time the bursary was made available, she was a mother to a baby girl. This did not deter her from getting back to school in 2018.
“DREAMS has taught me that it is possible to prosper and make it in life. I have learnt a lot and I am lucky to be back at school, a privilege that most of my peers do not have for various reasons. I plan to finish my secondary education and move on to University and become a doctor. We only have one doctor in my village and I am determined to become the second”. She told us.
We wish her all the best in her endeavours as this is what DREAMS are made of.
PrEP prepared me for the future
At 18 years old and in her final year of secondary education, *Christine Apondo had to sit for her final exam while in the last semester of her pregnancy, an experience she regrets. She then moved in with her husband, who became promiscuous and even went ahead to marry a second wife.
Despite having to endure the hardships of her husband’s now divided attention as a result of his taking on another spouse, Maurine confided her challenges in a long time friend who introduced her to some service providers at LVCT Health and thereafter got enrolled in their DREAMS program. It was there that Christine received a number of biomedical interventions. Her husband had severally infected her with sexually transmitted infections and therefore she was also initiated on PrEP to reduce her chances of acquiring HIV. Efforts to convince him to accompany her for HIV testing proved futile.
“When I started taking PrEP I was not sure if it was the right thing, at first I struggled to keep to my daily dose, but my counsellor encouraged me that this was the right thing to do based on my risk.” Christine tells us.
Christine therefore adhered to her medication and received other DREAMS evidence based interventions. She was further supported with a bursary from DREAMS and joined Waondo vocational training college where she was admitted for an electrical course. She has had to take a break after all learning institutions were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As fate would have it, Christine’s husband fell ill and after being tested he turned HIV positive, while she tested negative. It also came to our attention that her co-wife was HIV positive and had been secretly taking medication (she suspects that their husband had infected her earlier on, even before they got married).
Christine was elated to learn that she was HIV negative and will forever be grateful to the DREAMS team for Initiating her on PrEP, a drug she continues to take faithfully and which has so far protected her from contracting the virus.
“After graduating from DREAMS this year. I wanted to confirm that I could still access PrEp and I am happy that I can go to the nearest health centre and get the drug at no cost. I believe PrEP saved me from getting HIV. I am now determined to raise my 3 children to realize their full potential.” She joyfully adds.
Christine is already benefiting from the electrical course she took, as she has been able to have electricity connected to her mother-in-law’s house. This, among other things, has earned her respect both at home and in the village. She is always called upon to do electrical wiring at construction sites and recently got a job at her local church. She plans to further her course in electrical engineering.