Mary “Mum” Wanderi - Founder and Director
Mum, as she is fondly referred to by staff and participants alike, is the brain and engine behind Living Positive Kenya.
"Being in the slums, I grew up seeing so many social challenges among the women," she says. "I grew up watching so many struggles to bring up their children. My desire was always to work with the women and support them.
"I often saw a lot of social workers coming in to support people. Those were the people I wanted to be like. Since I was a kid, I knew what I wanted to do."
Mum pursued her passion and went on to study Social Work and Community Development in Western Kenya.
The inspiration for LPK came from her hard-working mother, who moved to the slums after divorcing her husband. She worked herself to the bone, creating small businesses here and there in order to provide for her eight children all on her own. "That's why I really believe in the strength of these women," she says. "They can't give up on their lives, and they must take responsibility for bringing up their children so that they are not brought up in institutions."
In the ten years since LPK's creation, Mum has watched her beautiful "daughters" grow into beautiful women in the program. She has helped countless women battle the stigma around their HIV status, taught them to love themselves again and forgive those who rejected them and given them the tools, skills, and knowledge to support themselves and their families. She has given children the opportunity to go to school. She's given families the opportunity to grow together. Mum has taken great care of her family.
Felicity Koech - Communications Officer
Felicity studied Sociology Development at Kenyan Methodist University because she wanted to be a positive force in the lives of women in her community. She has been the Sponsorship and Communication Coordinator at LPK since 2011.
Her main role is to communicate with potential sponsors looking to make a difference in the life of a child affected by HIV and AIDS. Once the person has chosen a child to sponsor, Felicity keeps the sponsor informed about the child's progress in school, shares pictures, and sends reminders about payments.
Though the sponsorship aspect is her favourite part of her job, Felicity is also responsible for several other components of the LPK program. She communicates educational and health-related concerns to the parents and teachers of Salama School; she facilitates project planning for upcoming volunteers; she conducts children's forums on issues such as hygiene and academic performance; she maintains the organization's social media accounts; Felicity is an integral part of the LPK family.
Jonh Fisher Kanene - Head of WEEP
John Fisher Kanene joined us in July 2018. In his position, he is responsible for the WEEP program ensuring the program aligns with LPK's vision and continually reviewing the program's objectives to provide the best outcomes for the women enrolled in the program. He has vast experience and expertise in program planning, management and implementation with several years of experience in programmes using participatory methodologies with children, youth and families involving child rights and community development, even strategic planning and women economic empowerment and microfinance skills.
John has worked with INGOs and NGOs doing capacity building and Project Mgt. He has extensive experience in Creative Learning Approach to the education of marginalized and vulnerable children without access to education facilities.
"I believe in empowering communities with relevant and appropriate life skills for self-sustenance and self-worth."
Nayomi Maina - Social Worker
Nayomi studied Community Development and Social Work at the Damwa Institute after deciding she wanted to work with women and children. She has been working at LPK since 2013.
Nayomi works alongside Ruth to follow up on cases for all of their clients and ensure that they are receiving the support they need to remain healthy, active, and stable in their lives. Her responsibilities include coordinating support group meetings, conducting home visits, and ensuring clients are effectively contributing to their microfinance savings, among several others.
"My favourite part of the job is when I'm visiting the women in the slums or in the community and they are positive," she says. "They are positive towards the issues they are going through. Maybe they don't have money to take their children to school now, but we encourage them that God will provide a way, God will give them money, and their children will go back to school. I feel so happy when they respond positively to that."
Ann Wambui - Community Health Worker
Ann has been a part of the LPK family since the beginning. She was one of the first ones to benefit from the program. Starting in 2007, she spent two years as a regular member of the weekly support group before settling into the position of Community Health Worker. "I wanted to help people fight stigma and help people in the community who were sick," she says.
Ann's job is to identify women who are HIV Positive, refer them to the project, follow up, and do home visits to the ones who are very sick.
"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.'
Velicinia Muthoni - Accountant / Human Resource Manager
"I like balancing figures and making sure they agree," says Valicina. "I like numbers so much. I love calculations." Velicina is a born accountant. She studied to be a Certified Public Accountant at Stratmore University, and she's been the numbers woman at LPK since mid-2016.
Velicina is responsible for all of LPK's financial matters, such as receipting money, issuing money, making payments, and making financial reports to donors. As the Human Resource Manager, she is also responsible for writing up contracts.
Numbers aside, she also takes pride in the positive work her employer does in the community. "I like dealing with women and seeing how far they have come. That is an inspiration to me," she says.
Tabitha Muthoni - Receptionist
For the last two years, Tabby's smile has been the first thing visitors see when they step foot into the LPK office.
As a graduate from WEEP herself, though, Tabitha does a lot more than just greet guests and answer phone calls. She plays the crucial role of Mentor to the women of LPK. "I want women to learn from me," she says. "I was once like them. Once they see me, they know that it can happen to them. They can change, their lives can change."
She is also a regular part of the psychosocial classes. "I love doing psychosocial so much," she says. "When we do psychosocial, they tell their stories. It helps them heal as they talk day in and day out. They cry, and when they cry out, that bitterness is gone."
Psychosocial classes help the women heal from the shock of learning their status, the subsequent rejection at the hands of their friends and loved ones, and the physical challenges they endure. "Those things they undergo usually make them so bitter. At the end of psychosocial, you have to cry and spit it out so that you can heal."
Tabby is an ambassador of healing and hope for LPK.