Thirty years ago, AIDS was a mysterious and scary disease that was an almost certain death sentence. Those known to have it or to even be HIV positive, were shunned by most of society. Education is still important but research, mostly done in Africa, has provided medications that allow people to live relatively healthy and productive lives. In Kenya four women have a business called Mwangatu, which means “Light of Hope” in Swahili. They are overcoming the stigma of HIV by building their business and using it as a vehicle for education. The Red Bead calls for solidarity, education and compassion for those dealing with AIDS/HIV.
Just a few short years ago, Grace, was a radiant young bride. Her handsome husband was well respected in the community and a year later, she gave birth to a beautiful young daughter. But within months, her whole life was shattered. Her husband was driving back from the Nairobi airport where he had dropped off a group of volunteers who had eagerly given their time at his non-profit. On the way home he was flagged down by some men he thought were police, but they had only selfish motives. They wanted his car so shot him dead.
Grace was devastated but trusted that God would protect her and her young daughter, Kelley. She started to make jewelry but when her friend from the US, Jen Foster (http://internationaladvocate.wordpress.com), offered to connect her to CWOW, she became very excited. She quickly absorbed the business training we offered, created a business model and now works with other women helping them develop their businesses. Grace is CWOW’s exporter and liaison and an amazingly gifted business woman. And Jen has committed three years of her life to being a CWOW International Advocate while mentoring Grace and the others through the development of their businesses. Other short term International Advocates, go to Kenya to do mentoring in specific areas like product development.