Through 'Painting for an Education' I want to use my art to bring education to girls and women living with HIV/AIDS, to help them to attend school and receive an education. Today it’s a small venture, but most things start that way- I am confident.
My vision is to empower women, invest in their ideas and grow those ideas into long-term opportunities for women living with HIV and their children. Through my work I have met the most amazing people whose resilience and strength is astounding. To make these dreams come true an education is essential, because education opens doors, it provides knowledge and skills to make the best choices.
I sell my artwork and with the proceeds I am working with NEPHAK (The National Empowerment Network of people living with HIV in Kenya). Through their network they help me identify the girls that are the most vulnerable and where help is needed and ensure that the school fees are paid. See some of my previous artwork that has been sold to support this cause and how I get inspired.
Juliana from NEPHAK, is working with me to pay the school fees directly, she stands up for young people living with HIV in Kenya and fights discrimination in schools, click here to hear her story which I capture on film 2 years ago when she was 19.
UNAIDS estimates that over 34 million people are living with HIV worldwide, the majority, however, are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite huge progress, there are still over 2 million children born each year with HIV. These are children that will live with the virus all their lives. Technological advances means that treatments are available that will allow these children to live and grow to be healthy adults.
Today there is still much stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. Many families find it hard to find employment and many positive children end up living in a precarious situation with limited access to school. Education is not free in Africa and families who low incomes find it hard to ensure that their children attend school. Education is key to women’s empowerment in all societies, it allows them to have better control over their lives and make a better decision about their health and welfare. Girls living with HIV are therefore twice as vulnerable without an education.
My hope is that mother to child transmission of HIV will reach zero. Today there is an estimated 2.4 million children living with HIV. We need to be able to provide these children with the lifesaving treatment, but also ensure that these children grow up into young adults who will be able to take educated choices about their health and lives.