An Interview with Francis Otieno

Updated: Aug 23

by Gordon Nary



Gordon: Why did you volunteer with Education for Life a project of Catholic Church Diocese of Eldoret involved in HIV/AIDS Education?


Francis: I took an offer to volunteer with Education for Life a Catholic HIV prevention strategy, because it was using a holistic approach to tackle HIV by offering HIV education to high schools, churches, prisons, and colleges, at the same time the project was supporting HIV positive people and HIV widowed women with no source of income paying school fees, rent and food and I felt I should be part of the team. I felt HIV infected individuals should be at the forefront fighting the scourge. I approached Sr Helen O'Reagan who was the project coordinator and she took me in and trained me as a facilitator my main area was sharing my personal experience with participants, talking about adherence, and positive living. Sr Hellen relocated to the US her email is horeganrsg@gmail.com


Gordon: When and why did you co-found Hope For Future Foundation Self Help Group and what is your mission?


Francis: Hope For Future was founded in 2002 and was registered officially in 2003, our main mission was to fight HIV related to stigma in the society by then none of us could afford HIV drugs so we thought we would be contributing for hospitalized members transport their bodies home because death real and indeed many died, later when HIV drugs became available we decided to focus on HIV orphaned children we felt we would mobilize school fees, uniform sanitary pads, toiletries, underwear, and bathing soaps but we could not find support so we decided to focus on items we could afford such as sanitary pads toiletries underwear soaps and body lotion only for our contracts to discontinued last year when USAID slashed HIV funding to Kenya rendering Hopeless we have nothing to contribute for them


Gordon: What are your responsibilities at Hope For Future Self Help Group?


Francis: I am the Team Leader at HOPE, I am tasked to reach out for support, ensure That the children are missing classes in their respective schools, talk to respective schools heads to understand the children's plight because some are taking Hiv drugs too.


Gordon: When were you diagnosed with HIV disease and what’d did you discuss with your physician?


Francis: During those days even physicians were not ready to interact with HIV positive people. I remember a blood sample was taken from me and I was told to wait for 30 minutes, then a man came to me shouting my name Francis!Francis! You have AIDS!! When I asked him what I should do he told me to go home, it was very traumatizing. I received counseling from Catholic sisters who had rumors about me from neighbors and they came to look for me by then I was staying in Kibera slums after talking to me they took me to MSF facility who managed me up to the time I accessed ARVs 2005


Gordon” What drugs are you currently taking?


Francis: I am on DTG currently a combination of Lamivudine, tenofovir, and Fumarate.


Gordon: What training did you have to be an HIV counselor?


Francis: Psychological counseling skills, HIV management, adherence, and positive living, I had also enrolled for a diploma in Community Health but didn't complete for lack of fees I had already done 18 units out of 24.


Gordon: Please share with our readers how you are helping young women.

Francis: We are helping young orphaned school-going girls affected and infected with HIV, by mobilizing and distributing to them sanitary pads toiletries, underwear, school uniforms, and body lotion,  By doing this we are helping them to stay in school and help them from being lured into early sexing exchange for sanitary pads. Some men take advantage and lure them into sex. Please review Equipping young ladies with tools for a better future.


Gordon: What are your funding needs for Hope For Future Self Help Group and how will donations be used?


Francis: we need to develop a website for the project visibility, we need urgently sanitary pads toiletries underwear and body lotion for the children now then we need income-generating activities for the project to be self-reliant in near future, The donations will go towards the project priority being sanitary pads toiletries underwear uniform bathing soaps those are the immediate needs. Then we need a computer, then we find IT person to develop for us a website and lastly initiating income-generating activities


Gordon: How can our readers donate to Hope For Future Foundation Self Help Group?


Francis: you can send by pay pal adongof@gmail.com +254710906907


Gordon: As the founder and former executive director of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, I can’t thank you enough for your commitment to helping these children and I hope and pray that our readers will make a donation. Even $5.00 $10.00 can an impact on these girls’ lives and protect them from harm.

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