“I am from a neighboring country and was introduced to sex work after my parents died. I moved to Kenya where police harassment, client abuse and accessing hospital facilities were some of the challenges I faced.” These were sentiments by Anne, a sex worker in Kisumu. Just like her, many sex workers were violated by clients and police officers. The situation was not different with the men having sex with men (MSMs) who were rendered unacceptable to the society. According to KDHS (2003), the national HIV prevalence was 7.1% among adults aged between 15-64 years.
As a result, Keeping Alive Societies Hope (KASH) was started in 2003 as a Non-Governmental Organization in Kenya to empower the sex workers and MSMs economically so as to promote a healthy society and advocate for their human rights. Since then, KASH has continued to focus on human rights, health interventions, policy and advocacy, governance and capacity building as priority areas. For health interventions, KASH provides health services at our Drop-In Centers (DICE) including; HIV testing and counseling, STI screening and provision of ARVs. According to Quinter, a sex worker in Homabay, KASH DICE has assisted sex workers in the community. “If this KASH project for sex workers would have come earlier I would not be infected with HIV, “she explains.
Police officers, through advocacy sessions organized by KASH, understand the concerns surrounding sex workers and MSMs. Inspector Wilson Edung started working with KASH in 2007, advocating for change in police attitudes towards sex workers. “My colleagues and the general public called me names. They referred to me as “Polisi anafanya na Malaya” (a policeman who works with prostitutes),” he says. However, his dedication to this course continued and he received recognition when he was appointed to the position of the Kenya Country Focal Point (CFP) for the Law Enforcement and HIV Network (LEAHN) alongside his police work.
KASH also launched the Shiriki project in the coastal region. Funded by USAID, the three-year activity has KASH as the prime implementing partner and two other partners SCOPE and NOPE. KASH is grateful to our donors Aphia plus, KIOS, OSIEA/OSF, Planet Romeo, ACA and USAID for their continuous contribution to our work.
We welcome additional support.