SALT- The 'spotlight' in Mlolongo major Truckers stop- Kenya.

Dear Friends,
Back Ground: India- Kenya Exchange.
India- Kenya Truckers/PLHAs have been engaged in a virtual learning process together since October 2010. Wonderful sharing has happened. They have been sharing experiences on HIV/AIDS and Health among Truckers. Concerns, Strengths for Response and vision have been named. The engagement has enhanced sharing and inspiration among the two Countries. The two SALT Teams in each Country have or will organize a SALT visit in each Country and later participate in a video Conference linking virtually the two Countries to share and synthesize Key learning gained during the SALT visits.

Linked to the ongoing process Described above.The team In Kenya Organised a SALT visit to Mlolongo Major truck stop - See below

We really had a SALTY visit on Friday 12, Feb 2010
Here is a reflection and illumination from Peter during the SALT visit. He has been in the Long transport sector for over 15 years now.

A big vision to being a Truck Driver

'' I joined the long transport work as an assistant to the driver (Turn-boy). I was introduced by one driver who came from my home village. When i joined, i noted there were several Drivers from my neighborhood villages. I was excited to pursue the transport career. I had a big vision, one to become a Driver too.

My Job and My deep Health concerns to Truckers.

It was really a challenging experience for you spent many days away from home. When you seek permission from your employer to visit your family, you most likely to lose your job or part of your small salary is chopped off. The being away from home was putting most of the Long distance truck drivers to a great risk. You would find majority of the drivers had many sex partners along the transport corridor. I began to realize that it was really harming many of the truckers. For instance, back in my home village, all the drivers those that i had found in the long transport sector had died of AIDs including the driver who introduced me to Long transport work. It was a big shock to me, I recall. I used to drink heavily; i tried assessing how the drinking was predisposing to getting infected of HIV and i surely learned how the tune ends in a nasty way. You spent a lot on drinking, on women to the extent of forgetting your own family at home. i surely dropped drinking since then.

The turning point and my offer for influencing change.

Today, i have not forsaken my colleagues including those who drink beer. I accompany them in the bar, when they order beer, i order for myself a Soda. I stay with them till they get drunk. Majority of them, when drunk, would now want to get a woman for the night. This really disturbed me. I kept asking myself on how to best engaged with them on the issue of AIDs and self protection. It was not clear to me for a couple of months until then i got a solution to my concern. I decided to be reminding them of some women known to them along the transport corridor whose health was deteriorating. Sometimes i could even use trickstars without referring to someone.

The change we can see!

I have seen this really help for when i help them reflect on the incidences. It really changes their intention to go with a woman that night. It even opens ups an in-depth talk on how to protect themselves from HIV infections. They get so encouraged and motivated too and ask me to show where they can be tested for HIV.. I conclude by saying, when you have gone through all these experiences and one day you pause to reflect on your own life, encounters including challenges. You are deeply humbled. I got tested for HIV, i couldn’t believe my eyes, i was happy and i had to run and get my Partners who also tested for HIV too.

What communities said during the Visit?

I am deeply humbled to be part of this conversation for i know how meaningful it is to our truckers. When we leave here, we will share with our friends on what we learnt and encourage them to come-Peter Mwangi (Trucker)

We are happy for the team being available here at Mlolongo to facilitate the learning and sharing. We wish if this could be happening to every truck stop. We can really help many truckers
– A lady from the PLHAs Network at ATHI RIVER.

We hope this conversation is NOT the end but the start of a big process that will awaken our community in the transport sector. We will encourage them to come, visit and test for many are asking on where to get testing including where to get the ARVs – Gideon Trucker.

I got tested and after knowing my status, i ran back home to get my wife for a test too. I was really excited for i to a U turn on many things that i took for granted related to my life. Above all the issue of many sexual friends along the transport corridor.- Gideon Trucker

Plus more reflections.
Petronila (NEPHAK) is compiling the Comprehensive report.

Warm wishes and look forward to hear from our India Friends


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