For International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting a few members of the SHOFCO Women’s Empowerment Project (SWEP), which provides business training and support groups for women in the slums of Kibera and Mathare who are HIV-positive. We hire our SWEP members to create beautiful handmade goods – from beaded bracelets to yoga bags – providing a means for them to support their families. These products are now for sale on SHOFCO’s Etsy page.
“I was afraid that my neighbors would speak badly about me, abuse me, or stop associating with me. There was such a stigma around being [HIV] positive. All of us in SWEP had been doing the same thing – hiding – but once I opened up, we all realized that there were quite a few of us living with HIV. So when we discovered that we weren’t alone, we felt much more comfortable and we found in each other a community where we all fit in…SWEP has helped me so much financially and emotionally. I used to go about my life thinking, ‘I could die any day now.’ After we became a support group, I realized that it’s not about dying; it’s about finding other ways of living.” – Alice