I first met Fatuma Juma about a year ago in her home town of Nakuru, Kenya, a two-hour drive northwest of Nairobi. A 42-year-old single mother of three, Fatuma is naturally talkative and laughs a lot. Within minutes of meeting, we were chatting like old friends reunited. Fatuma told me how she overcame the shock of finding out she was HIV-positive to become a pillar of hope for many in her community.
Six years ago, Fatuma had a persistent cough. She visited the local public hospital where doctors discovered she had tuberculosis. Health workers advised her to take a test for HIV. She was HIV-positive.
She lived in denial until she met social workers in APHIAPlus, a USAID-funded program implemented by FHI in collaboration with the Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamas.
The social workers counseled and helped her to join a support group. Fatuma was trained as a peer educator and community health worker.
Due to her positive attitude and willingness to help others, Fatuma has established a reputation as a good counselor. Working with others in the program, she helps families, especially the children, get health care and other services such as education and business skills. Her inspiring story is one of triumph and resilience against major odds.