Each day, around the world, women continue to bear the heavy burdens of poverty and poor health.  Rose is a CMMB community health worker, trying to make a difference.

Rose lives and works in Mutomo, a remote village in a semi-arid area of Kenya.  Although Mutomo is only four hours away by car from Nairobi, for those who live there it feels a world away.  There are few paved roads and donkeys, goats, and chickens generally outnumber cars and motorcycles on the dusty streets in town.  Most homes do not have electricity or plumbing and they are often far from the nearest neighbor or health facility, including the Mutomo Mission Hospital.

People in Mutomo are very poor and most of the 17,000 inhabitants are living under the official poverty level of $1.25 USD a day.

Rose’s upbeat attitude and beautiful smile mask a lifetime of pain and personal tragedy:

My smile is a disguise. Only one of my children is still alive. I lost four others to malaria, epilepsy and other illness.  I was shocked when I tested HIV positive.  My husband had not been faithful and he abandoned me once I knew my status. CMMB helped me regain my dignity, with care and medicine.  I began a new life when they taught me how to help others.

My smile is a disguise

I joined CMMB’s community health worker training more than a year ago. I have been recognized with merit awards for my good performance. I don’t want anyone to suffer like I have.  The families here have so little.

I walk more than 100 miles each month to visit 30 families that depend on me for care.  I want to make sure they all stay healthy. I want them all to have latrines. I encourage the pregnant mothers to get antenatal care and deliver in a health facility. I also make sure their children receive immunizations so they don’t get sick.

Rose walks miles each day, visiting the 30 families who depend on her for care.

When I first started as a community health worker, I was assigned to an HIV care program. Based on my own experience, I encourage everyone to get tested so they know their HIV status. There is no reason to wait.  If I had known that I was HIV-positive sooner, my youngest child might have lived. It’s not easy. There is stigma and discrimination, but I want everyone to know that I am living with HIV. I am fighting by taking my medication and sharing information with others.  It’s important for everyone who is HIV positive to know that they are not alone.  HIV has a huge impact on our society in Kenya.

I am poor and have little but I can share my experiences.

I am poor and have little, but I can share my experiences and what I’ve learned from CMMB with others. My daughter is grown up now. She got married and moved away.  My joy comes from her and my grandson, Eric. My dream is that someday there is a cure for HIV and I will be strong again.   

While Rose’s smile may hide her broken heart, it also reveals her sense of hope.  Rose is one of more than 3,000 dedicated community health and social workers trained by CMMB this year. Committed, caring people like Rose are proof that individuals can make a meaningful impact on their communities.

 Support a community health worker like Rose by clicking here.