Over the past 10 years, Khadija Rama has helped her home village of Isiolo, Kenya, change the way it talks about HIV and AIDS. Rama lost two brothers to HIV and watched the town turn against her mother because of the shame of being associated with the “cursed” disease, she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday. Rama said she decided to fight back against the disease and the ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS at the time and launched a makeshift clinic and advocacy project called Wind of Hope in the Desert to help give shelter to orphans whose parents had died, treatment to those diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, and information to others in the village.
“It’s been a long 10 years but I’m glad to tell you that today the women of Isiolo have made such a big difference,” Rama said. “We have a good program going on, people are living positive, and also women and children having a second chance in life.”
Rama worked to educate the men of Isiolo about birth control and transmission of HIV, and had them help discuss transmission with women, who normally are not in the position to make decisions about birth control, she said. Now, the infection rate has dropped and many individuals are living HIV-positive lives, while children enrolled in the local school are accepted.
“So for these children to have uniforms, and actually it made them proud, it gave them another possibility of identifying themselves and commanding some dignity, in that way they felt courage to stand up and have a second chance,” she said.
See the full interview on CNN.