CARE for AIDS works to mobilize the church in caring for parents affected by HIV/AIDS in Kenya. Through the process of a nine-month program, each of our centers serves 80 clients at a time, empowering them physically, spiritually, socially, economically and emotionally. We know every parent’s dream is to raise and educate their children, and we empower them to do just that. After graduating from the CARE for AIDS program, clients live, on average, an extra 20-25 years. This means, despite their HIV status, they will live to raise their children and even see their grandchildren. We call it orphan prevention.
People often approach me with a defeatist attitude about our ability to truly impact an issue as large and as complicated as HIV/AIDS. However, I’ve never doubted the importance of our work because I know that each individual life and eternity is of infinite value. In the early days of our ministry, individuals and churches gained the most from the CARE for AIDS program. Individuals were transformed, families were strengthened, and the churches were revitalized. Now, as I read through the stories and statistics, I think the scope of outcomes has changed. Entire communities are now being transformed because hundreds of healthy HIV+ people have been unleashed in the community to work and fight stigma. The clients we have served also represent over 15,000 children, who are no longer at risk of being orphaned. Over the next decade, those children will grow up under the loving care of one or both parents, which will result in greater education opportunities and career potential. This army of young people will begin to shape the nation of Kenya.
Many still see the fight against HIV/AIDS as a losing battle, but this report tells a different story. We are winning. This has only been possible because of God’s provision and the unique collaboration between churches, community stakeholders, other service providers, CARE for AIDS staff, and U.S. supporters. Together, we are making an incredible impact.
- Justin Miller, Founder and Executive Director
Mary discovered she was HIV positive in 2008 when she went to the clinic for a checkup during her pregnancy. After learning about her status, Mary was afraid and felt very alone. She worried greatly about who would care for her children once she was gone, and her life became burdened with fear and anxiety.
"When I was told I had HIV, I was shocked… I was afraid of even going back to the clinic. I thought the only result could be death."
After years of living with fear and stigma, Mary joined the CARE for AIDS program at her local church in Kawangware and realized that she wasn’t alone. "[I feel] completely, completely different… after the program, I am not worried about anything."
Mary has graduated from the program and now runs a business in her community where she works as a tailor and also sells ice cream, yogurt, and soap. Before she joined the program, she doubted her ability to make a living to support her children, but she is now a successful role model in the neighborhood.
Mary earns enough through her business to put her children in private school, and she is hopeful they will all have the chance to go to university. "The business I run is a light to many, and it attracts so many people in the community. My neighbors have been encouraged and motivated when they see me and my children going to church, and now they fellowship in the same church with my family."
On the morning of March 11th, 2014, we had our final graduation at the oldest CARE for AIDS center. As of this year, we have closed operations in Banana Hill, and we couldn’t be more proud of this accomplishment.
The Banana Hill Center opened in March of 2009 – Margaret and Moses served as the center’s Health and Spiritual Counselors, and they mentored each class of clients with compassion and excellence. After 5 years of operating this center, we found there was no longer enough need in the community for us to continue recruiting classes.
Since 2009, Margaret and Moses have served over 350 families in the Banana Hill community, and those families represent over 1,000 children. Thanks to the CARE for AIDS program, those children are no longer at such risk of being orphaned or losing a parent because of stigma and lack of access to care.
For the needs that do remain in the community, we have empowered the Banana Hill church to address those needs without CARE for AIDS being present. This is our prayer and ultimate goal for all our centers.
We would like to extend a special thanks to the community of Fort Worth, Texas for financially supporting operations at the center in Banana Hill and to Margaret and Moses for faithfully serving the clients of Banana Hill for five years.
Francis Odour is leading the charge in this expansion, so Ryan Arnold sat down with him recently to check in on how things are going on the coast.
You’ve been in Mombasa for about three weeks now. How have things been going?
I can say that things have so far gone very well. Great prospects and the need is big. I’m excited to be here.
What are some specific ways you have seen God’s provision as you are starting your work?
I met with a pastor recently. He is offering to host the first center in Mombasa for nothing else but to see how many souls can be won into the Kingdom. That is the way God works and provides. Also, he told me that he had heard of CARE for AIDS and that he loves what we do. This was a big surprise to me [that he had already heard of us]. This has really encouraged me.
What can we expect to see in the next few months?
In the next couple of months, two centers should be up and running, but in the meantime, I am up and down the whole town making sure that we have the right churches and the best staff. There is so much already going on… in less than three months already so much to report!
Francis Oduor, Regional Coordinator, Mombasa
"He is a good father..." Sally is the first to tell you that her husband is a family man, but he wasn't always that way. Watch the Okoths tell their story of redemption and reconciliation.
Our mission at CARE for AIDS is simple but requires endless work and many hands. Our supporters are a huge part of all we accomplish.
Each client, staff member, and donor at CARE for AIDS is a unique and meaningful piece of our ministry, and together we make something truly great. We want to take the opportunity to spotlight a young couple that has mobilized their community to make a huge impact.
After their trip to Kenya in 2013, John and Kylie White began to rally their family and friends to support CARE for AIDS, and they have raised nearly $50,000 to support a center in Sinai. We sat down with them to hear more about their story.
How did you first get involved with CARE for AIDS?
We had been praying and researching organizations in Africa for 2 years. We were on a family mission to find an organization to get behind through giving, prayer, and going. God had put big buckets of shared passions (the unreached, marriage, and the orphan crisis) that were guiding our giving and serving, but they felt like three isolated passions. In 2013, a close friend invited John on an impact trip. He took our five-year-old son with him and came back raving about the organization. We then went later that year with our seven-year-old daughter and took some friends with us. We soon realized CARE for AIDS was a ministry weaving together all of our shared passions by serving the "untouchables" of the community, restoring the whole family and marriage relationship, as well as preventing hundreds of orphans through each center every nine months. It was an instant fit and completion to a three-year process of finding a place to plug in and invest as a family.
How did you decide to include your friends and community in supporting the center in Sinai?
After going twice, we realized God was calling us to support a center. Our first response was to put our heads down and cover the cost personally each year. After getting started, we realized that we were not engaging other families just like us who were looking for a place to serve and plug in. With a step of faith, we put the challenge of raising money for the center out to friends, family, and social media. Within weeks we were halfway funded, and a few short weeks later, completely funded for the year. It was amazing to see other families rally around the vision and get excited to plug their families into the heart of this mission. We even had a close set of friends, who traveled with us in 2013, step out and start to support their own center with their community. I realized how small my faith was to try and do it on my own and exclude so many others who were itching to get involved!
How do you involve your children in your giving?
We used to write a check to our church each month that the kids never saw nor understood the implications of. We decided as a family that we wanted to press beyond just check-writing to life-living with a partner ministry. We wanted our kids to experience God outside of America and to have their hearts and talents invested in a ministry. We realized we needed to take them, even at a young age, to experience what CARE for AIDS is doing. We wanted it to be a memory not a concept. For our first trip, our kids raised over $1,000 in one yard sale and two weeks of selling necklaces. For the trip we have coming up in 2015, our eight-year-old daughter is doing a presentation on CARE for AIDS and Kenya for her 3rd grade class, and the students will be writing encouraging notes to our first graduating class of clients at the center we support. It is such a blessing as a parent to see your kids' hearts pricked for the things God's heart beats for. They are tangibly loving and serving the "least of these" and taking their own initiative to pray and give of their own money to our family mission. I am so honored to have such an exciting adventure as a family for them to plug into.
What is your favorite memory of your trip to Kenya with CARE for AIDS?
One thing that has always stuck out to me was a comment made at a graduation we attended. The client said his diagnosis of HIV was like gold to him, because without it he wouldn't have met Jesus and had his life turned around from death to life through the program. It was such a reminder of how God uses our suffering for our good and for His glory. Another highlight was when we cooked dinner with a client family, seeing the kids rolling out dough as the adults cut vegetables and talked. The kids were running through the alley and playing tag. It was the most beautiful picture of community... it didn't matter that our family was American and theirs was Kenyan, we were just doing life together.
What advice would you give others who want to include their families and friends in their giving?
I would say put your "yes" on the table for God and take the next step. As we put our small obedience out there for God, He keeps expanding our influence and writing our adventure into His story. The more we said yes to each next step, the more joy we found. Step out, live a life that doesn't make sense to those around you. Find other families that want to be part of the journey! There are so many fun and creative ways to get involved with CARE for AIDS. We can think of no better legacy for our family than to have a mission and purpose to live out in front of and alongside our children. What a beautiful story God writes with our small steps of faith!
Nearly 400 CARE for AIDS supporters gathered in Atlanta, GA for our fourth annual gala on October 16, 2014. We were honored to celebrate a tremendous year with the supporters who make our work possible. The theme of the evening was Harambee, Swahili for pull together, and that theme was lived out through the incredible generosity of those who attended. The gala raised a total of $287,405. The donations from that evening have already begun to change the lives of hundreds of men and women living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya.
Thank you to all who were with us that evening! Save the date- the fifth annual CARE for AIDS Gala will be on October 15, 2015.
In 2013, artist Freedom Rodriguez visited Kenya to interview, photograph, and capture portraits of one hundred CARE for AIDS clients and staff members. Using stories and photographs from these interviews, Rodriguez painted each portrait on the cover of worn, previously discarded books, transforming once abandoned objects into unique pieces of art.
The portraits celebrate the lives and stories of CARE for AIDS clients and represent the millions of people around the world who have been discarded by their own families, friends, and communities due to their HIV status. These portraits and stories serve as a symbol of the powerful redemption that takes place when a community acknowledges each individual as a unique and valuable work of art–body and soul.
When asked about his choice to use books as an art medium, Freedom remembers seeing a pile of books in the library stamped with the word discard.
As a supporter of CARE for AIDS, you help us tell the stories that are too often neglected. Our team wants to thank you for being part of God’s process of transforming lives into beautiful works of art.
These 100 portraits are now compiled in a coffee table book. You can learn more about the project here.
Cliff Robinson- CHAIRMAN- Vice President, Field Operations, Chick-fil-A, Inc.
Nick Gordon- SECRETARY/TREASURER- Student, Owen Business School
John Wills- Co-Founder and Principal, MedApproved
Garret Rutherford- Founder and CEO, Brand Apart
Debra Griswold- Counselor
Michelle Slatton- Interior Designer
Tammy Preston- Experiential Learning Consultant
Jeff Moredock- Student, Harvard Business School
Justin Miller- Co-Founder and Executive Director, CARE for AIDS, Inc.