Growing Strong, Despite Illness

In 2009, Ian Kiptoo, the youngest child in his family, stood over the graves of both of his parents. His mother had died of HIV/AIDS. Shortly after, his father had committed suicide because he was certain he was also infected.

With both parents gone, Ian’s fate rested with his father’s family. According to Kenyan custom, Ian’s home and his inheritance came entirely through his father. But the family blamed Ian’s mother for infecting his father, so they banished Ian, along with his brothers and sisters, from the family home.

The children were taken in by their mother’s parents. Ian’s grandparents were willing caretakers, but they were old and poor. They enrolled the children in a public school in Kobos-Kitale, but the fees, while relatively small, were more than they could manage. In addition, the children were emotionally traumatized and needed support services the grandparents couldn’t provide.

Ian (R) reading with his friend Moses (L).

In September, 2009, Ian and his sister Viola joined Baba Nyumbani, where they received the therapy, schooling, and daily care they needed to heal from their traumatic past. Yet the caretakers at Baba Nyumbani knew that Ian was not yet free of the trauma of HIV: he tested positive for the virus.

When Ian was mature and strong enough, he learned about his HIV status. He was shocked and devastated. He knew that his own father had taken his life rather than face the same disease. Yet Ian had the strength and support to face the challenge of HIV.

Today, thanks to antiretroviral drug therapy, he is a strong, healthy boy. And through many sessions of counseling, he has healed from the psychological wounds of the past and the present.

At the Micro Community of Baba Nyumbani, Ian has laid the foundation for a bright future. He is an excellent student in the seventh grade. His favorite subject is math, and he wants to become an electronic engineer.