Ann Wambui married at the age of 23, and for the next five years, she spent much of her time going back and forth to the hospital, completely unaware of why she was always sick.
Then in 1999, it was recommended that she get tested for HIV. The results came back positive. Anne couldn't believe it. She didn't believe it. She was too stressed and focused on trying to provide for her seven-year-old son to even begin to process what that status might mean for her.
The rejection of her family and community made her life even more difficult than it already was. Her sister-in-law blamed her for her husband's death, and this stigmatized her throughout the community.
Thankfully, in 2007, she was invited to an LPK support group. Mom opened a kitchen and cooked for the women and their families. She gave them a place to eat, relax, and be among friends.
Ann did this for about two years, and soon enough, people were approaching her to ask how she'd managed to get healthy and fight off the stigma around her illness.
Mom advised that she study to become a Community Health Worker rather than enter the Women Economic Empowerment Program, and with the financial support of USAID, that's exactly what she did.
Ann has worked for LPK for eight years now, and she has become a symbol of strength, love, and hope in the neighbourhood. It's clear when she walks around the community and everybody stops to laugh and talk with her. She is a central figure here, working both as a Community Health Worker for LPK and as the Head of the Health Department for her community. She keeps the community happy, healthy and living positively. "I feel so good because I am dealing with lives," she says. "When I help someone and see that the person has become healthy and the person has accepted her or himself--he or she is able to fight stigma and not have self-stigma--I am happy. I am happy when people can say, 'Yes, I have HIV, but it's not bothering me. I can take medication. I can stay healthy. And I can stay positive.