I met Beatrice in 2004. As she lay in this bed deathly ill, her 10 year old son Vincent was digging outside the hut in which his mother lay dying. Beatrice was so ill she could hardly speak. I was so deeply moved to see Beatrice so ill that all I could do was hold her hand in mine, sit beside her bed trying very hard and unsuccessfully, not to cry. All she said to me was: “Please make sure my son goes to school.” For days I was so sad for Beatrice and all the women of Africa who were faithful wives to their husbands, yet died and left their children because their husbands brought HIV/AIDS home to them. Three days after my visit with her, Beatrice passed on.
That day I took on her son as mine. I also started an International Nongovernmental Organization (INGO) known as International Peace Initiatives (IPI: www.ipeacei.org) that partners with people around the world to create projects that support women and children to overcome challenges from HIV/AIDS, poverty and violence. We have a Children’s Home for HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children and an education program that keeps these children in school.
Insert Photo 2 First IPI’s Amani Community Children’s Home (ACH), at Kithoka, Meru, Kenya. First 15 children moved in August 2009.
Seeing what women go through because of lack of education, I created a program that supports women living with HIV/AIDS premised on three Es: Education, Enterprise and Empowerment. Our program teaches the women to dare dream (Education), dare do (Enterprise) and dare trust they have what it takes to transform their lives (Empowerment)!!
I tell the women, that education is the husband who will never let them down. Education gives the women the information they need to create the knowledge to build initiatives for economic independence – Enterprise. Once independence and self-reliance are attained, the women recognize they have the capability to transform the circumstances of their lives, thus empowered to take charge of their lives. It very soon becomes very true in their lives that education is the one vaccine that frees women from the shackles of poverty, disease and violence.
Women who once saw themselves as helpless and hopeless come to discover that hope, peace and love must come from within each one of us. In the end, the women came to realize that they are the hope they have been looking for!!! Our lives, mine and theirs, have never been the same.
Thank you Beatrice!!
By Karambu Ringera President & Founder, International Peace Initiatives (IPI) May 27, 2010