Pamela’s Dream: Creating hope for HIV-positive women

Photos by Liz Vidyarthi, Kiva Fellow in Kenya


This story comes from Kibera, in Nairobi:

Pamela is a woman whose smile radiates confidence and joy. After the single mother found out she was HIV positive in 1999, that confidence was tested to the limits. But she was determined to continue to be a pillar of strength for her family and her community.

Pamela started treatment for HIV and founded a support group for women called the Kibera HIV/AIDS Support Initiative Program. She asked the local health clinic to refer recently diagnosed women to her.

“I came to know there are women in this community who might be suffering in silence the way I used to do and that’s what inspired me to start a support group,” says Pamela.

Pamela took the group one step further by teaching herself and the other women how to bead, so that they would have an income for their families. She was especially motivated to make enough money to send her children to school.

She now counsels 40 women affected by HIV and owns her own jewelry shop, which donates 50% of its profits back to women in the group recently diagnosed with HIV.

With a loan from Kiva, Pamela was able to expand the types of goods she offers in her shop, increasing her profits from $120 to $175 per month. In 2012, the average annual income per capita in Kenya was less than $950. Pamela makes an average of $2,100 per year now.

She is also a trustee for another female borrower and hopes to refer many more widows and single women to Kiva in the future.

Pamela with Veronica, a widowed borrower who sells flatbread and hopes to open a catering business in the future.

Pamela with Veronica, a widowed borrower who sells flatbread and hopes to open a catering business in the future.

“I wanted to become a Kiva trustee because I do believe in changing lives. I feel very humble introducing these other people so that they can benefit…the way I have,” she says.

What makes Pamela so unique is that she’s not only grown her own business, but she’s done so with an unwavering positivity and resiliency of spirit. According to former Kiva Fellow Liz Vidyarthi, “[Pamela] is one of the most positive people I have ever met.”

She’s a shining example of how a Kiva loan, partnered with hard work, dedication and belief in a better future, can empower people around the world.

You can back a dream for a woman entrepreneur like Pamela today at kiva.org.


About the author

Talea Miller

Talea is excited to combine her love for powerful storytelling and her digital strategy experience. She comes to Kiva from the Kaiser Family Foundation, where she managed digital strategy for the foundation's consumer-focused PSA campaigns. Prior to that she was a reporter and producer at the PBS NewsHour for five years. At the NewsHour she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the developing world as part of the program's global health unit, covering a wide range of stories including the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, doctor shortages in Tanzania and the mistreatment of the mentally ill in Indonesia. In addition to being a news junkie, Talea enjoys photography, hiking and attempting to paint. She graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Journalism and is originally from Maryland. So she also knows a lot about horses.