Community Light Programme Update

Community Light Programme (CLP), founded by Edu Pondah and TJ from the USA, aims to improve the lot of HIV+ people and their dependants around Shanzu. They take a multi-front approach, through support, education and empowerment.

When I visited in April 2013, CLP was based in the old Bush Bar club in Shanzu, a ramshackle collection of buildings with space to house the office, posho mill (to grind maize), handicraft workshops, rabbit rearing, small-scale vegetable growing, etc. They had a borehole and electricity, which enabled them to pump water to irrigate the 3 acres of land across the road which has been loaned by Shimo La Tewa prison.

Sadly, the owner of the Bush Bar has reneged on the agreement (rumour is that he was squeezed for cash, and his bankers want him to realise the value of the property). CLP are squeezed into a single store room, and the power is off. Although the project continues, its activities are dispersed, and some suspended.

But it’s not all doom and gloom: Bamburi Cement have agreed to drill a borehole across the road (on the prison land that CLP use), which will allow them to pump water for irrigation again, and resume cultivation of the land. Some buildings will be erected to house CLP on that land too.

Meanwhile, CLP’s support for the community continues, with kids in school and so on.

But Edu told us of some challenges they face:

  • It’s important for the clients to take their medication regularly, and to attend hospital appointments, but timekeeping is a problem. A company donated some watches with alarms that could be used as reminders, but it’s too tempting for the clients to sell the watches for some ready cash!
  • Sponsoring children through school is important, but there’s a risk that the parents simply assume the kids will be taken care of, abdicating responsibility for their wellbeing.

Life’s never simple! But Edu and his team keep smiling and doing their best to help those in need around them.

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