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Tumaini Letu: Our Hope
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Tumaini Letu: Our Hope
In the villages of western Kenya, AIDS has robbed hundreds of thousands of children of their parents. This film follows the lives, struggles, and indomitable spirit of three women left to care for these orphans, as they fight to give the children a chance of a better future.
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Produced by AED.

Learn more about the Speak for the Child project.

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Segment 1

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We know that AIDS has taken a devastating toll on sub-Saharan Africa. Millions have died, and the lives of millions more hang in the balance. What we don't often focus on is the impact the disease has on the survivors. AIDS isn't only about the dying. It's also about those left behind, their struggles and their spirit.
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Rural communities in western Kenya have been hit hard by HIV/AIDS.
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Hundreds of thousands of children have been robbed of their parents.
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Those left to raise these orphans struggle to survive.
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But their lives are not without hope.
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Tumaini Letu: Our Hope
LIVINGSTONE AMOTH [Village Chief, Siaya, Kenya]
That's left very many of us. It's left very many widows. So, there's a very big challenge over the HIV, but the most one is orphans, and bringing these children up becomes very difficult. Most of them cannot even go to school. Most of them cannot even go to health centers, because they don't have the cash for treatment. So most of them die.
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Vihiga, Kenya
RASOA KIVAIRU
My name is Rasoa Kivairu. I am taking care of 10 grandchildren whose parents have died. Rachel is four years old. Diana is also four. Anthony is about 12. The parents of these children got sick, and I took them to the hospital. They diagnosed TB and found out they had AIDS. I was deeply sad: my children dying of AIDS and leaving me with their children.
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Three of Rasoa's six children have died of AIDS.
RASOA KIVAIRU
I am an old person, around 65 years old. I was the only relative who could take care of them. I decided to raise them instead of letting them roam the streets. When I was stronger, I'd do farm work for less than a dollar a day. Then I would buy maize meal to make porridge. I don't have any other means to get food. It's luck if I find food. If not, they stay hungry and drink water. When I was depressed, I would kneel down and cry to God, "You feed the birds. How about me?"
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In 2001, a program began bringing Kenyan villagers together to help one another. "Speak for the Child" trains local women to mentor caregivers in raising healthy children.
COMMUNITY MENTOR 1
To my caregivers, I normally give them love and encouragement.
COMMUNITY MENTOR 2
I give them hope, and I encourage them to look after the orphans
RASOA KIVAIRU
The mentors teach us a lot. They also visit to see how you're doing. If they find you depressed, they encourage you. They encouraged me to plant vegetables. So, when I prepare a meal, I also cook vegetables from the garden. And I feed them to the children to make them strong.
CHILDREN
Amen.
RASOA KIVAIRU
They also had frequent malaria attacks, and I would treat them without success.
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Children in the program receive malaria treatment and free basic medical care.
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Nurses dispense deworming pills.
RASOA KIVAIRU
I gave each of them the medicine, and the worms came out. I was very thankful. Now I am at peace. They gave me blankets, insecticide-treated nets, and medical record books for the children, and I felt good. That is why I am a bit stronger.
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Kakamega, Kenya
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Even for younger women, caring for these children is overwhelming.
ANNA KHAUTU [Mother of five]
When I wake up, I thank God for taking care of me during the night. My greatest worry is how I will feed my children or clothe them. When my husband was alive, I had no problems. He provided food for the children. I stayed home, took care of the children, and cooked the food he brought home. We were married for 14 years.
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In 2000, Anna's husband became very sick. No one knew what was wrong with him.
ANNA KHAUTU
He eventually passed away. After we buried him, I went for an HIV test and counseling. I found out I was HIV positive. Then I knew he died of this disease.
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Margaret. Anna's mentor
ANNA KHAUTU
When people know you are HIV positive, they do not want to get close. They avoid close contact for fear of getting infected. Before Margaret started visiting, I was struggling on my own, planting and selling vegetables. The children's existence was pathetic. They were naked. They had no clothes. They had no blankets. Now that the project is here, my children are eating well. Margaret taught me to keep my compound clean. I dug a compost pit to dispose of the trash. I used to place my dishes on the ground, but I've learned to use a dish rack. My children no longer have diarrhea, because they are using clean dishes. AIDS brings a lot of suffering. Healthy and strong people become emaciated. When you get sick, you should seek medical attention. It will help you take care of your children longer.

Segment 2

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Siaya, Kenya
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When orphans stay in their villages with family, the loss of a parent is easier to bear.
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Anna Aredo and her four nephews
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Each boy has lost one or both parents to AIDS
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And the youngest, Moses, might be HIV positive.
JANET [Anna's mentor]
How are the children?
ANNA AREDO
They are well.
JANET
It is important to feed the children a balanced diet. There are three food groups. There is protein for building the body. There are vitamins, and there is food that gives us energy.
ANNA AREDO
Protein is difficult. I have only beans and small fish. The children want meat, but I cannot afford meat.
JANET
If you cannot afford beef, then buy small fish.
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Anna cooks the small fish.
ANNA AREDO
The way I cook it, not the way other people cook it: I wash it with warm water, then I put a lot of oil, so I try to fry it a bit. Then I add milk, because I want it to be a little bit more nutritious. We are trying to give a balanced diet to Moses. A little improvement is there, because he is not a healthy person.
SOPHIA OWUOR [Mentor]
They need a lot, as orphans. Most of these women, they don't have jobs. It's only the farms which take care of them. We have support groups where they talk about their problems.
WOMAN
I'll buy seeds so we can grow vegetables.
ANNA AREDO
The caregiver support group, when we go to the meeting there, we are talking together. We give our ideas. We see where somebody goes wrong, and we correct it. Let us love and help each other, especially those in great need. That spirit will be a real source of support for us all.
ANNA KHAUTU
My hope is for my children to go to school, complete primary, secondary, pass the exams, and find jobs, so they can build a decent house.
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Eclay, Anna's daughter
EVERLYNE MUSAVA [Preschool teacher]
Before the program paid her preschool fees, Eclay was sent home a lot. She is doing well. I'm sure she'll be promoted to first grade.
PIUS OMONDI [Second grade teacher]
The most important thing, when a child loses her father or mother, is to give him or her support in life. We want to educate these children so they can get a better future when they grow up. Because they are actually orphans, and, when we leave them just that way, where will they land? So, we have to get them an education so we prepare them for their future.
ANNA AREDO
You see them laughing, the way the laugh. The children, when they are satisfied, see the way they play and the way they laugh. You know they are okay.
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"Speak for the Child" began supporting 500 orphans. Five years later, there are more than 9,000 orphans in the program.
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"Speak for the Child" is a program of the Academy for Educational Development. www.aed.org
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This film would not have been possible without Rasoa Kivairu, Anna Khautu, and Anna Aredo sharing their personal stories with us.
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[end credits]