Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) today teamed up with Frontline AIDS, a charity organization that supports persons living with HIV, to donate dry foodstuff to cushion sex workers who are considered a vulnerable group against the biting economic effects of Covid-19.

The contribution which comprised relief packages containing maize flour, wheat flour, sugar, cooking oil, and green grams – is part of the nutrition support rendered to persons living with HIV in support of the national response against the corona pandemic.

While presenting the donations, ART champion and care manager at BHESP Ms. Lydia Otiso indicated that over 50 families have benefitted directly from the nutrition support and close to 2000 persons of the broader cohort receiving prevention services have benefitted from the distribution of Personal Protective Gears. “As a champion, I am greatly appreciative of the motorbike that this Frontline AIDS grant enabled us to acquire and so the effectiveness of differentiated care service delivery for our ART cohort can be increased for retention and for the greater objective of achieving the 95-95-95 goal of treatment prevention,” says Lydia.

Saying BHESP is keen to support needy families especially sex workers during this period of the pandemic, Lydia appreciated organizations that have heeded the call to help the vulnerable in the society. “We are grateful when we get the networks to support and help out. We will continue to work with you to help spread the assistance that is needed especially during these difficult times of coronavirus pandemic,” added Lydia

One of the recipients of the donations, Naomi Wangui (Not her real name), a sex worker and living with HIV thanked the donors for the help saying the last nine months have been a painful experience for her. She no longer gets her regular clients but even the few that seek her services are unable to pay or pay very little.

“I got a client last week who came over to my house as he could not afford a lodging, after the act he did not pay the agreed amount and when I raised my voice he punched me in the face and I became unconscious, when I woke up, he had left with my phone plus the little amount that he had earlier given me,” said Naomi as tears rolled down her cheeks.

Naomi’s situation presents a real situation that most sex workers in the slums are undergoing with the harsh economic times biting real hard.

The government’s enforced measures to limit the spread of the virus, a 10 pm to 5 am curfew, and shutting of bars and nightclubs have left sex workers to either work during the day and be very visible or to violate the measures.

“How do you expect we sex workers to adhere to these measures when we cannot feed ourselves and our families plus many of us cannot pay rent anymore and the landlords don’t want to hear any explanation why we are unable to pay?” Naomi asked.

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