My World Aids Day in Memory of Aunt Atieno

The week have been quite rough, undertaking my driving school classes on the top of my academic schedule. I will not complain as my life is much better compared to my busy schedule in Kibera of carrying heavy rocks in the construction site.

Today Wednesday, I man woke up a dog-tired in the rainy and unpleasant day. I understand why the Americans are known to be cold and introvert. I man was cold and hiding in my room doing homework. I know its a dangerous trend as it makes me run away from life and transforms to personal life-style.

Even though the day was unpleasant, I man had to give a talk in the nearby health center where there was a World Aids Day event. This was a request from amazing group of students from Wesleyan University by the name ASHA. I went to give a talk to inspire my Middletown community but the Irony, is that I man was transformed inspired by them. I listened to talks from the mouth of the individuals who are infected and they taught me a lot. There experience was moving and their hope shined across the room. The event went well and the people felt inspired and I called a call of action. We need to do something, we don’t need to celebrate all the time but do things that can make our children celebrate tomorrow. I man don’t celebrate much as I want my children to celebrate and not eat from the garbage as I did.

Today, I had to reflect and meditate about my World Aids Day. I didn’t celebrate because I had nothing to celebrate but I went to the world of thought. When I was little stubborn baby boy, there was a young lady by the name Atieno. Atieno was my younger aunt who loves us as little kids. My mom could go out to search for food , while Atieno would remain in the house to make sure we were fine.  The young woman never went to school, there was no coins that could educate her as we lived a desperate life. My dream was to get a job in a factory as unskilled labor when I grew up and make sure Atieno lives a better life in the ghetto. The sad part was that Atieno passed away when I was only 15. She died from TB and all connected with Aids. A poor woman was infected and the sad naked fact was that she even traded her body so that we may have food. I will not blame Atieno as she did what anyone could have done if they were in our situation. Furthermore, Atieno is my hero, she is always proud of me. I feel her when the earth is quite and the wind is blowing while my eyes facing the shining stars in the sky. I feel her whispering, “Okwanjo, I can’t believe you are in American University with wazungu(whites). The word Okwanjo means a sportsman who is brilliant and brave. Atieno used to call me Okwanjo as I liked to play soccer and make my soccer ball from dumped papers and strings. When I was little, Atieno could take me for a walk and we met white tourists taking pictures of little boy Kennedy and as they laughed at us. This is why Atieno thought that white people are powerful and courageous.  I bet Atieno will laugh and can’t believe am getting education in a white man country.

My World Aids Day was in respect and memory of my aunt Atieno. She died when ARVs were expensive, she died while can’t have enough meal as food was a secondary commodity for us. Aunt Atieno left love in my heart. I know she will be happy to know that we have started a school for girls in Kibera and we also run a health center to in conjunction with community health workers so that Atieno case will never  happen again.

Ladies and gentlemen, lets not make this day to be a World Aids Day, but rather personalized it to be “My World Aids Day.”  Go out there and give love, hugs, inspirational talks to the people who are being discriminated— that will be much better than sitting in your room waiting for President Obama remarks on American government committing itself to wipe Aids out of Africa.  As we celebrate this day, I as a luo who is sharing the same ethnic community with President Obama’s dad. I hereby request his government to do more on HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. George W. Bush will remain African number one hero and fighter of HIV/AIDS epidemic. We are still buying time with president Obama, lets see what will happen as he is still cleaning other messes. In the mean time ask yourself what have you done on your world Aids day?




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