AP/Long Island Newsday Profiles Effort To Address HIV/AIDS Through Community Development in Kenya
The AP/Long Island Newsday on Sunday examined the efforts of a mother-daughter team to reduce HIV/AIDS through community development in Kenya. Rosemell Ong'udi and her daughter, Loyce Mbewa-Ong'udi -- who runs the Rabuor Village Project -- have developed "community-owned" programs in which residents rather than donors set the priorities. According to the AP/Newsday, the project's work "embodies what experts consider the most effective approach to development."
In 10 years, the village of Rabuor has founded a nursery school and feeding program, a pharmacy, a youth group and income-generating projects with little international aid. Youth involved in the project also teach school and adult groups about HIV prevention, testing and treatment. The work has affected more than 10,000 people in 10 villages and continues to grow, according to the AP/Newsday. District Commissioner Godfrey Kigochi, a senior government official for Kisumu West, said he wishes he had a project similar to Rabuor's in every village in the district. Organizations that provide funding or expertise to the Rabuor project also say it is "unique for its pragmatism and deep community roots," the AP/Newsday reports. The Rev. Charles Ong'injo, who has been involved in the project since its launch, is helping other congregations launch similar projects.
Because residents were not prepared to discuss HIV/AIDS directly at the beginning of the program, it initially focused on increasing crop production, followed by projects aimed at earning incomes, keeping children in school and training adults in agriculture, nutrition and vocational skills. Although Loyce Mbewa-Ong'udi does not own land in Rabuor or live there -- the project is based in Seattle -- she said she recognizes the project can only work if villagers are involved.
According to the AP/Newsday, the village "is not utopia," and residents often disagree over how the project should operate. However, "competing views are a sign of subsistence farmers becoming active citizens, of women speaking up," the AP/Newsday reports. In addition, such disagreements are part of the reason why some people believe the project will work in the village in the long-term, compared with other projects that collapse when donors leave, the AP/Newsday reports (Borst, AP/Long Island Newsday, 8/17).