The Heroes, Us! is a unique collection of true stories that capture the lives of six HIV positive patients from Busia Western Province.
It details the struggles and successes of four adults and two children living with HIV/Aids.
World Aids Day is marked every December 1st. According to the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey 2007, 1.4 million Kenyan adults are infected with HIV Aids. In addition, Kenya has the highest, 7.8 per cent HIV/Aids prevalence rate in East Africa.
Speaking during the launch Elena Velilla, MSF’s Head of Mission in Kenya said that the cartoon book captures the voices of patients, who share their experiences in how they have overcome stigma and discrimination.
“Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has supported an HIV/AIDS treatment and care programme in Busia since 2009. We have seen the difference quality care counselling and education can make. The key message in the book is that treatment is possible and effective even in resource poor settings,” Velilla said.
The Heroes, Us! was illustrated by world renowned cartoonists Frank Odoi (FRAN), James Kamawira (KHAM), Paul Kelemba (MADDO) and Godfrey Mwampebwa (GADO).
The book comes along with a DVD containing images of and a song Usife Moyo (take heart) composed by Kenya’s Suzanna Owiyo.
“We met the patients and they had good stories to tell. These stories will make others believe that they also have a future,” said Odoi.
Each story has a lesson.
“Future Icon” and “Little Flower” show cases the lives of orphans Sebastian and Laureen whose lives have been changed by Anti-Retro Viral treatment.
“Lady of Substance” follows the life of Hawa a young HIV positive widow turned peer educator, while “Brave Widower” is about Boniface who like Hawa has chosen not to remarry and is an elected village elder and peer educator. “The Community Advocate” illustrates the life of discordant couple John and Topista.
These stories illustrate how they were shunned by the community but overcame the stigma and become activists, peer educators and leaders.
“Mama Narc” describes the story of Evelyne, a wife and mother, who struggled to accept her HIV positive status.
“Unlike patients in Nairobi, these patients have stopped living with stigma and they talk openly about their status,” said cartoonist James Kamawira.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supported the HIV/Aids treatment and care programme from 2000 to 2009.
The book and DVD are available free of charge at Yaya Centre, Bookstop, Silverbird at the Junction and Westgate, Bookpoint on Moi Avenue, Text Book Centre at Sarit Centre, Book First stores at Nakumatt Mega abnd Ukay Centre and Nakumatt Prestige, Karen, Junction and Westgate.
You can watch the DVD and listen to Susan Owiyo’s Usife Moyo here.