HIV Positive: Voiceless and Empowered

HEART LogoThis is a special guest post by Africa HEART, a Segal Family Foundation partner, for World AIDS Day.


“Good Morning,” I said to my children. They stared back at me blankly with no response. I wondered if they could not hear me. They were sitting there like statues, again I said “Good Morning.” I then realized that I couldn’t even hear her own voice! I thought, “this cannot be happening to me.”

After being voiceless for three days, I went the hospital and was diagnosed with a common cold. I was immediately put on medication, but my condition deteriorated. I decided to go back to hospital and I was referred to Kenyatta hospital (the National referral hospital in Kenya).

Tests revealed my worst nightmare: throat cancer… and HIV. I felt my world crumbling down right before my eyes. I did not know what to do. 

After learning of my HIV status, my husband and family members abandoned me, leaving me helpless and weak. I still had three children to take care of and I had no income and no skill. I felt like my life was not worth living anymore.

After 14 months of medical treatment, 7 surgeries and 1 month in ICU, I had to get my voice box removed and I discovered that I was also pregnant. I was discharged to recuperate at home. It was after this tough period that I lost my 10 month old twins daughter because the medicine was too strong for the babies and I had no proper medical care and not enough food or income to sustain my family.

Fortunately, I met a lady named Mary Wanderi who introduced me to Africa HEART’s Women Equality and Empowerment project (WEEP) program that supports women living with HIV/AIDS who are abandoned and helpless. I was a bit skeptical about the idea, but later found out that the women in WEEP had gone through the similar experiences to me (or even worse), but they were still holding on to hope. It was while at WEEP that I met Vickie Winkler, founder of HEART.2014-12-01-DSC_0643Dorcus showcasing a sample of her coffee bags, a source of income for her through the WEEP program.

I found new hope through HEART! WEEP catered for my food, paid the school fees for my children, paid for rent and medication and began to teach me how to provide for my children. It was like a dream after all I had been through!I am so thankful to God for this program. HEART gave me emotional and financial support at my lowest point and has helped me build my skills and take care of my family. I have gained tailoring skills, graduated from the program and now own my business. I have now employed four people. I can now pay some of the school fees for my children and provide for their needs.

When speaking, I use an electro larynx to amplify my voice. I am HIV positive, raising my three children all by myself and earning an income through my growing business. Read More

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World AIDS Orphan Day – 7 May, 2014

Africa HEART Newsletter
 World AIDS Orphan Day 7 May 2014 
In This Issue
Freedom to be a Girl
Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria.
World AIDS
Orphans Day
May 7th, 2014
“Change My Life – Give Me Free, Quality Education”
Happy Mother’s Day!
Mother’s Day is coming up on May 11th! Need a gift idea? Check out our online WEEP gift shop at
for a unique, handmade gift that will make a difference.
We are forever grateful to Diane Roeker and Straight Up Inc for the development of this website!
HEART’s Newest Addition
The HEART Lodge has almost completed the construction of seven additional rooms!
In fact, 4 of the 7 rooms
were occupied last night! Sandra Perkins is here helping us with  the
decorating and furnishing.

Thank you, Dave Lowe, for your skills and expertise on overseeing the construction phase!
Additionally, thank you to all who contributed financially to make this expansion possible. HEART  only owe $7,500 on the construction phase!
Watch for the new HEART Lodge web site to be launched this month!

What has HEART done for educating orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)?
These are also some of HEART’s many accomplishments centered around OVC this year:

7,308,000 Kenyan Shillings (USD $87,000)  has provided school fees for 253 children (made possible by a Women Leaders in Action grant)


2,100,000 Kenyan Shillings (USD $25,000) provided by a variety of donors for high school, college, and university students


114,500 Kenyan shillings (USD $1,347) has been raised from the Greenhouses and other income generating activities, used to pay school fees


216,000 Kenyan Shillings (USD $2,571) which has been earned by other income generating projects such as fish, bee keeping, and poultry farming

“Forty seven girls at Ngelani Ranch Primary School received a year’s supply of Proctor and Gamble sanitary towels, four undergarments, a health education booklet, and two pieces of soap. They were thrilled!
Did You Know?
Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Kenya
25 million out of a population of over 34 million Kenyans are at risk of malaria
Malaria accounts for 30-50% of all out-patient attendance and 20% of all admissions to health facilities
An estimated 170 million working days are lost to the disease each year (MOH 2001)
Malaria is also estimated to cause 20% of all deaths in children under five (MOH 2006)
The most vulnerable groups to malaria infections are pregnant women and children under 5 years of age 
The WEEP women have made
54,037 nets to date, which have so far reached
162,111 children and pregnant mothers
Contact Us
Donations can be made using PayPal on our website, or by contacting one of our offices.



Jen Friel


P.O. Box 631964

Highlands Ranch, CO 80163-1964




Vicki Jensen
P.O. Box 5675
Auburn, CA 95604



HEART Nairobi Office

(011) 254-737-080447
(011) 254-714-517326

P.O. Box 63414-00619 Muthaiga
Nairobi, Kenya


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Today is World AIDS Orphans Day, which is themed
“Change My Life – Give Me Free, Quality Education.” We wish to celebrate all that HEART has accomplished to not only care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) but also take part in orphan prevention initiatives. All of this is possible thanks to our staff and many donors.

HEART through its OVC program has been able to reach6,860 OVC that have accessed the basic six essential services provided by this program: shelter, food security, health care, education, protection, and psycho-social support. HEART also provides their guardians and caregivers with a sustainable income generating activities (IGA). These include animal farming (goats, cows, chickens and fish farming and bee keeping), agricultural projects in the 34 greenhouses we currently have plus kitchen gardens for each household.


This year HEART and partners have supported 253 OVC with school fees for 2014.The education support was allocated for: Primary (60), Secondary (158), College (26), University (9), with a total of 253. We recognize the importance of quality education to a child.

Want to hear a miracle? 23 high school students who are children of our WEEP participants completed High School in 2013 and qualified to join Universities! These children would have been on the streets and never would have completed grade school without the help of many sponsors.

Freedom to be a Girl

Sanitary Towel Distribution at Ngelani Ranch Primary School
On April 9th 2014, Lydiah (FFG Field Officer) accompanied by Ellen Bowman (HEART Mission Staff) and former Proctor and Gamble (P&G) Executive set out for a Freedom for Girls (FFG) distribution event at Ngelani Ranch Primary School. The school is situated in Mlolongo, Machakos County and from their experience, “It was a bumpy 14 kilometer drive on a dusty stretch from the main Mombasa Road.”



After being warmly greeted by the head teacher Mr. Kioko, the team found the girls and female teachers eagerly waiting and ready for them. On arrival, they had a short tour of the school and then proceeded to do the health education and distribution. Lydiah carried on with the health education using the new teaching aids donated by Ellen.

Lydiah uses new teaching aids during a health education session


Lydiah already likes the new teaching aids as they had a clear illustration of the menstrual cycle and how the body changes in girls during puberty. They are also brightly colored, interestingly presented, and easily visible by a large number of students. The school girls (and teachers) too were fascinated by them.  The lamination adds to their durability as they will be used for health education all over Kenya. “They will now be my traveling companion,” added Lydiah.


Forty-seven girls in this school received a year’s supply of P&G sanitary towels, four undergarments, a health education booklet, and two pieces of soap. They were thrilled! The school will do the monthly distribution to ensure these school girls get the supplies. Lydiah will check on their progress.

Girls receive sanitary towels donated by
Ellen Bowman and friends


Rotary District Governor Elect, Bimal Kantaria, of Prestige Packaging, is a major donor to Freedom for Girls project. He has donated over 120,000 pieces of polythene bags over the years that are used to package the packets.  Mr. Kantaria referred HEART to the this needy school. He supports the school feeding program and is now supporting the building of a new classroom. The school performed very well in the national examinations last year in their zone.

Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria.

HEART’s Efforts to Combat Malaria in Kenya

Malaria is a human disease that is caused by a parasite (genus Plasmodium) in the red blood cells. It is transmitted by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito – the primary vector of the disease.


Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN) is the most effective way to prevent malaria with the target of providing more than one treated net per household. Currently, the proportion of households owning more than one insecticide treated net is about 22.5%. Therefore, there remains a great need to distribute more. The target is 100% with at least 2 nets per household (PSI/Kenya Programme Profile 2011).


HEART has a project under the Women Equality Empowerment Project (WEEP) known as the Malaria Prevention Project. This project has a dual strategy of preventing malaria and empowering the WEEP women who make the nets. The project has been running since 2005, and the women have been able to make 54,037 nets to date and has so far reached 162, 111 children and pregnant mothers. Once the nets are made, they are distributed through HEART and our partners. This has been made possible through the support of Norris Rugel Foundation enabling purchase of materials used in net making, the chemical used to treat the nets in line with the treatment policy and labor costs.


Children receive nets provided by HEART and its supporters


World Malaria Day was marked this year on April 25th. HEART’s efforts compliment the theme for this year, “Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria.”


A Special Note from Vickie
We have had to change our Vision Statement! 
It is similar but had to add three words to fit who we are today!  It now reads “Empowering the people of Africa to survive and to thrive beyond the HIV/AIDS pandemic”!
We are no longer just helping people survive … but now we are seeing them thrive! Four WEEP Graduates have purchased land outside the slums. This is hard for any woman in Kenya to do …  but for some of our women who have come from near death with AIDS … to owning her own land … it is absolutely fantastic! Children that would have been on the streets are now instead entering Universities … rejoice with me! 
None of this would be possible if you were not standing with us in prayer and giving … Thank you dear friends!


Milele Shukrani (forever grateful)  


Vickie Winkler, Founder/Executive Director
Africa HEART

Africa HEART Newsletter March 2014

Africa HEART Newsletter
March 2014
Thank You
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board, we want to thank each of you who attended and supported the 14th Annual HEART on Safari Dinner! 

If you were unable to attend, please read through the articles to catch a glimpse of the evening, and if you did attend we hope you enjoy the memories of a fun, blessed night celebrating HEART. We hope to see everyone again next year!

Dr. Russell Tweet

HEART Board Chairman

Photos from the Evening

Nurse Alice Litton and Teacher Janet White hoist the Kenyan flag.  Alice embraced the Kenyan evening wearing traditional Masai fabrics and beaded jewelry.  Both ladies have made repeated trips to Kenya serving most recently as Mission Staff in 2013.

Dr. Russell Tweet, Vickie Winkler, Linda and Dr. Gerry Lee posing in front of the Kenyan Village.
Master Of Ceremonies Mitch Hanna, a local Rotarian, guided us through the night.
Former Mission Staff Katherine Rubin, Vickie Winkler and Alice Litton, RN

The Safari Raffle Winner is……
Toni Keyes!
Toni won a trip for two
to Kenya, including:
  • 3 days/2 nights at the Kenyan Wildlife Safari Lodge
  • 4 days at the HEART Lodge
  • Airfare credit up to $3,200 to purchase 2 airline tickets to Nairobi
Contact Us
HEART CO OfficeJen Friel


P.O. Box 631964

Highlands Ranch, CO. 80163-1964




Vicki Jensen
P.O. Box 5675
Auburn, CA 95604



HEART Nairobi Office

(011) 254-737-080447
(011) 254-714-517326

P.O. Box 63414-00619 Muthaiga
Nairobi, Kenya


Dear Reader,

For those of you unable to attend this year’s HEART banquet, we are happy to report that it was a huge success by all measures. The annual event has grown in scope and attendance each year, but the comment often heard about this year’s festivities was

‘over the top’. The guests enjoyed the displays, the dinner, and especially the speakers.

Kenyan Village

The large fairground hall in Auburn, CA was transformed by a team of imaginative and creative planners and a large number of volunteers. For three days the hall was a beehive of activity, undergoing a dramatic transformation. Starting on Thursday, the African village was assembled. This re-creation of         typical Kenyan housing vividly
                      displays the poverty so pervasive

Kenyan Schoolroom

This year a typical school room was added. It consisted of simple plank desks and benches with no ‘extras’ that we expect, such as textbooks or AV equipment. Many schools lack electricity and potable water. For those who have not had the opportunity to see such conditions firsthand, the village scene adds realism to the difficulties faced by Kenyans in their efforts to gain education.


The Night

The walls of the hall were decked with African cloth, and the display tables for the African handicrafts were artfully arranged. Many of these goods are hand made by women in HEART’s WEEP program. The purchase of the crafts allows Kenyan women struggling with HIV/AIDS and poverty to support themselves and their children. All the proceeds from these sales to directly to women in the WEEP centers  .

The combination of good weather and great community support from local churches and service clubs, as well as Women Leaders in Action (WLA) resulted in the largest attendance ever in the fourteen years of this event. Almost 380 paid guests, as well as 30 or more volunteers resulted in a packed house.

The Speakers
The evening kicked off with a blessing from Pastor Phil Sparling and our Master of Ceremonies Mitch Hanna, a local Rotarian, guided us throughout the night.   Several women from Women Leaders in Action told amazing stories of their work as HEART Partners in Kenya.  WLA Chairman Pamela Joseph wrapped up their presentation by adding a virtual bow on top with a $7,500 check to HEART!
Next, Bob Dunston added a touch of Africa with his great audio-visual presentation of the Rotary/HEART water well and greenhouse projects – announcing that three local Rotary clubs have secured a $96,000 Rotary International Water/Greenhouses grant – with HEART as the implementor!


Ellen Bowman, who came all the way from Cincinnati again, gave a great testimony to

the ‘on the ground’ effectiveness of HEART’s programs.  She contrasted that with other foreign aid groups that do not have the staff in place to actually implement aid programs in Africa.  Ellen reinforced the quality of Freedom for Girls, a program to supply Kenyan girls with sanitary towels.


Evans Masese, the newly named Deputy Director, was introduced by Vickie Winkler.Vickie explained that as HEART continues to grow and mature as an organization, the Board and the Management Team have

invested many hours of planning and implementing the changes

designed to ensure the continued success of HEART. While Vickie remains the President and Executive Director, Evans has been promoted to Deputy Director, and he will assume more of the operational oversight and strategic planning for HEART in Africa.  We plan to discuss this transition more in next month’s newsletter.

Again we sincerely thank you for your partnership with HEART.
If you are interested in becoming more involved with HEART, or coming to Kenya, reply to this email and we will find a place for you.
Sincerely,Dr. Russell Tweet
HEART Board Chairman


Vickie’s travels May 28 – June 21, 2013


I am in Amsterdam … on my way back to Kenya … I arrived about noon yesterday and leave this morning … worked till 9:30 PM last night and then got a Mercure room for the night and arrive in Kenya tonight. Up at 5:30 AM so I have a few hours to work before boarding my flight to Nairobi. .


I arranged the long lay over here in Amsterdam before I knew how WLA would bless me in Atlanta … so thought I would be “dead on my feet” with being up so many hours … I had planned to be in the Atlanta airport lounge from 6 AM – 10 PM – 14 hours so I could have the 2 hour meeting with WLA leadership. I wanted to ask them for $16,391 for WEEP women children’s school fees …which I did and they said “yes”! Plus we discussed other projects and they will help with staff salaries to implement WLA projects … they took me out to dinner with a group of WLA leaders in Atlanta … Italian … NICE! Then Beth took me back to the airport and we chatted all the way … never enough time with Beth!


Women Leaders in ActionWomen Leaders in Action (WLA) surprised me in Atlanta and sent a limo to the airport to pick me up and take me to the “Sheridan Hotel” ! I told the Limo driver about our WEEP project and he refused my tip and said “give it to your women” … can you believe that! He also said, “I want to be like you when I grow up”! I had a 4 solid hours sleep at the “Sheridan” before our meeting! It was marvelous! I was so tired …

I had moved from my little Lake of the Pines haven that Don and Liz Duffy provide for me … Pam Tweet came and helped me pack up all my stuff and clean my place (oh my I would not have finished without her!) and my grandson Buddy came and loaded up his truck (seriously it was loaded – he asked me “Grams did you really use all this stuff in that little space”)? Of course, I also had 3 large suitcases filled to the top for Kenya, a carry-on and my lap top case …and my purse …all stuffed … I like to travel light…

I got a complimentary upgrade to First Class to Atlanta and a complimentary Business Class to Amsterdam … this was another treat! Seems you just cannot out-give the Lord! I thought I would sacrifice my time and strength for the WEEP children needs and then I was one of the ones blessed!

I had a wonderful trip to the US:


Segal Family Foundation

Segal Family Foundation

New York City – was highlighted by Segal Family Foundation annual meeting for grantees with President Bill Clinton as the guest speaker! Amazing two days! I stayed with my friends Allison and Josh … an remarkable young couple that I now know better … they shared their lovely one bedroom apt. in Hoboken (gave me their bedroom)

Philadelphia – I spoke for a (WLA) luncheon … about 50 US Bank employees that are part of this WLA chapter … took 50 pounds of WEEP items for them and they bought all of it! I had put a duffel bag in one of my big suitcases in Kenya and just took it on the train with me to Philly and left it with them! What a great group!





Boston – I traveled to Boston and stayed with ken and Marie grant in their lovely home overlooking the Boston Harbor … spectacular view! I met with Amanda from Lift Up Africa (LUA) and discussed some future plans with her for having them work with some of the CBO that we mentor.



Then had lunch with Norris-Rugel Foundation founders – Peter and Amy Norris … they promised to come to Kenya next year! I also has a couple quiet days there to work and rest … I am grateful to Ken and Marie for their gracious hospitality.

Auburn, CA – then home to Auburn … had some time with family (never enough) and had many meetings and gatherings with friends and partners with HEART.

Atlanta – meeting with WLA list above …so a great time in USA!

[dropcap]Thank you for your prayers and support! I am ready and anxious to join my team in Kenya ….  [/dropcap]

Greetings from New York City!

Dear Friends,


Greetings from New York City! I had a safe trip and saw the favor of the Lord on each leg … from Amsterdam to JFK I was upgraded to Economy Comfort … an aisle seat in a row of 4 seats and only one lady on the end (Patricia)  she was from Italy (my age-ish) . She allowed an encouraged me to be able to use 3 seats to stretch out and rest! It was wonderful … then when I got to NYC she offered to share a cab and let me go to her apt in Manhattan and wait for Ali ….to come and get me from New Jersey!  It was lovely she knew how to negotiate through the airport etc. and we share the taxi cost!


Ali and Josh are an amazing young couple that love in Hoboken, NY. Ali is a school teacher and Josh works for Barkley Bank and they offered for me to stay with them while in NYC. I came yesterday and today with Josh on the Bus to the center of Manhattan and then took a cab to the convention center .. it was easy with him and the bus stop is a ½ block from his house.


They took me to dinner at a lovely up-scale restaurant about 2/1/2 blocks from their appointment the first night … ummmm wow so nice!


Yesterday the meetings started at 8 AM  and was a full day till 7:30 PM … I did not think I could stay awake and focused but it was so well done with many activities and such interesting speakers! President Bill Clinton was our luncheon speaker and of course he was great! People rushed to shake his hand and meet him … so I hung back a little … it was enough to hear his great speech!


The whole day was packed with networking opportunities  and I met some amazing people … also Rick and Amanda were there from Lift Up Africa so nice to meet some people I knew… I sat next to a young woman “Sara” at my assigned table (right up front) and she just “watched over me … all day and brought me coffee and was so kind .. they had an “after party” here in Manhattan … but  I excused myself and headed back to Hoboken.


It was a very long day and immediately when I got home and (rode back with Josh as he waited for me) got home about 9 PM and went directly to bed …


Segal Family Foundation

Segal Family Foundation

Today is a training day put on by Segal Family Foundation(SFF)  … this group is actually amazing I am so impressed with their desire to see all of succeed and to come alongside their grantees and offer support and tools to be successful! They are interested in helping African grassroots organizations with Institutional Strengthening and their whole approach is taking small to medium groups like HEART  to the next level of growth! It is a wonderful philosophy and it is working! They interspersed the day yesterday with success stories that were so encouraging!


SFF will have their 2014 Annual Meeting in Africa in October! So hope some of my staff can attend!


So I arrived in the city early (doesn’t start today till 10 AM but I came again with Josh … so I am at a café next to the Convention center and just wanted to touch base with all of you!


The weekend promised to be quiet … Ali and Josh offered me several options … but rest a and  quiet day and go to church with them on Sunday (I think they attend a Catholic mass) sounds wonderful to me! They promised me steak again on their Bar BQ Sat night (my favorite!) and I will take them out tonight ..


Monday I go to Philly to meet with Women Leaders in Action (WLA) will take the train … and so look forward to that and back to Hoboken the same day and then to Boston to stay with ken and Marie and will also see  Amanda again with Lift Up Africa and hopefully Peter Norris!


I travel to CA on Friday next week …


Just a little update … thanks for sharing this amazing journey with me!




Vickie Winkler    

HEART Executive Director

P.O. Box 63414 – 00619 Muthaiga

Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa