Auma, a dynamic 43 year old HIV+ married woman, posts on PulseWire using her cell phone and at her local internet café in the rural disctrict of Migori, near Tanzania. Auma first heard about World Pulse's new project PulseWire when word spread to her area from the historic Kenya 2007 conference on women and HIV. She knew it spelled hope for her.
"I think I was meant to be part of World Pulse," she laughs. "I hope to be your ambassador from Migori."
Today, World Pulse celebrates Auma as an emerging grassroots leader in the fight against AIDS.
At 43, she's founded a small community-based organization to provide home-based care for other HIV positive women in her village. She's also helping to create a non-profit organization. Along with care, the great need in Migori is food.
"We are very poor here," she says, "but we are ready to do many things. We do need the training and the knowledge about these things. But we can do the rest." Laughing, she adds, "I have so many dreams, and now, I'm going do them all!"
A year ago, life wasn't as hopeful. At 42, married to a husband she loves and surrounded by her children, Auma hovered near death after years of living with HIV. She was one of the lucky ones who had gotten access to antiretroviral medicine for HIV. At night, shooting pains in her legs made sleep elusive. So she used the long hours to plan and scheme for what she would do, if her health recovered.
Today, Auma is, in her own words, a new woman. She still suffers at night from painful side effects, but she's strong enough to visit other women and attend empowerment seminars in Nairobi, a long day's bus ride from Migori.
Already, her planning is paying off. With her new contacts on PulseWire, she's learning about new opportunities: microfinance programs, empowerment trainings, model HIV programs, positive living tool kits. Her focus is on empowerment as the key to overcoming poverty.
"Many of our women are not empowered, and that is a big problem," she says. "If we can be trained as trainers, then we can begin training others. That is what we want."
She adds passionately, "We are ready to change the future here, we women. So please, share my story with everyone. And tell all those people who are part of World Pulse that I thank them for the great hope they have given me that I can do all this important work."