Women of Vumilia


Women infected or affected by HIV/AIDS are often shunned in Kenyan society.  Facing rejection, discrimination and stigmatisation, they are often left with the burden of supporting their own and their children’s families.

Vumilia – we persevere in Swahili – began as a small group of 30 HIV positive women meeting to help and support each other. Many of the women were grandmothers. The project grew into a fully fledged community organisation which ensures essential services such as nutrition, health care and education are made available to community members. Vumilia works to improve the well-being of families and individuals both economically and psychologically within a supportive environment.

Thanks to the generosity of GlobalGiving donors in the US, we distributed 25 self-powered radios to Kabras in Western province, to enhance the lives of the women of Vumilia.

The radios helped the girls and women of Kabras to survive against formidable odds. They received both local and international programmes, which include news bulletins, farming techniques, health updates, and AIDS prevention information.  The women listened to the broadcasts all day while working in the home and garden, and gathered their families and neighbours together on Sundays to listen to the radio. Their radios become a focal point for the community, providing news, information, advice, vital life skills and all too rare moments of joy and comfort.

In May 2007 Vumilia sent Lifeline Energy a report about the value of the radio to their members. Here is what some of Vumilia members said.

  • Rose told Vumilia’s evaluators that programmes on family life taught her to be more gentle with her husband and children, to appreciate them when they do well, and forgive them when they do wrong.
  • Zainabu said that through Habari (news in Swahili) programmes, she has learnt about corruption and that one has the right to access services without giving bribes.
  • Consolata’s favourite station is Ramogi FM. She enjoys Dhoulo programming and tongue twisters. The radio keeps her mind occupied and relieves her from stress arising out of social stigma and gossip because of her HIV positive status.
  • Emmah listens to programmes on HIV/AIDS and has learnt that being HIV positive doesn’t mean one is ‘dying the next minute’.
  • Florence said that thanks to Lifeline Energy and the Lifeline radio, she knows the time even though she does not have a watch, and so she can take her medicine on time.

Extract from Report on Radios Issued to Vumilia Clients, 31 May 2007.