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© UNICEF Kenya/2005/Bannon
Members of Pepo la Tumaini Jangwani (Wind of Hope in the Desert) perform for members of the press, at the launch of UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS in Nairobi.

NAIROBI, Kenya, 25 October 2005 – The Eastern and Southern Africa regional launch of UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS was attended by officials from UNICEF, UNAIDS, the African Union, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the National AIDS Control Commission of Kenya. But it was 11-year-old Florence and seven other children from Pepo la Tumaini Jangwani, a support programme assisting people affected by HIV/AIDS, who stole the show.

Florence moved a packed audience to tears with her eloquent and powerful testimony of what it means for a poor child to live with HIV.

© UNICEF Kenya/2005/Bannon
L to R: Buck Buckingham, PEPFAR; Heimo Laakkonen, UNICEF Representative, Kenya; Bience Gawanas, African Union; Mark Stirling, UNAIDS; Per Engebak, UNICEF ESARO Regional Director; Miriam Were, National AIDS Control Commission, Kenya.

“When my mother died of AIDS, I was sent to live with my aunt because my father was sick and unable to look after us,” she said. “At that time, I was also getting sick and weak. My aunt was unable to care for me and took me to the Child Welfare Society, a home for orphaned and abandoned children.”

As Florence’s illness got noticeably worse, the Society decided to transfer her to Pepo la Tumaini Jangwani where she would be assisted to get medical help. She is now on antiretroviral treatment.  

“Children need to be recognized, they need to be visible in public because children are just as much infected and affected by HIV/AIDS as adults,” said Per Engebak, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “We are hoping that with this campaign we are launching today, the international community will recognize the specific needs of children around HIV/AIDS.”

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