Catherine lives with her grandmother and brother in Eastleigh where the majority of residents are Somalis.
Eastleigh is a densely populated area with high-rise buildings. There are high levels of crime, drug abuse, and violence, as well as high rates of illiteracy and school drop out among adolescent girls and young women.
The majority of residents are casual laborers or own small businesses, while others work in the informal small scale ‘jua kali’ sector.
Catherine grew up in a home with a parent struggling with substance abuse. Catherine became withdrawn and seldom left the house due to fear of violence, stigma, and discrimination. She dropped out of school due to a lack of school fees.
The DREAMS project paid her school fees, ensuring she completed high school. She is now a radio presenter at Milele FM, a local radio station in Nairobi Kenya, and currently appears in two local television series.
This profile is taken from the PEPFAR Kenya “Our Lens Sauti Zetu (Our Voices)” photo book — a compilation of images captured by DREAMS girls highlighting their own stories.
The following DREAMS girls were the eyes behind the lens and beautifully captured the stories of the young women featured in the project: Dorcas Akinyi Onyango, Agnes Wanjiru Mugure, Flovian Atieno, Faith Akumu, Francisca Ndinda, Effie Awino, Fatuma Lando, Dorothy Oyuga, Linet Odira, Hellen Atieno.
Text and images from “Our Lens Sauti Zetu (Our Voices)” are used with permission from PEPFAR Kenya. Learn more about Girls with DREAMS.
The photo exhibition, “Champions for change”, brings together personal stories showcasing how individual action can lead to a collective and forceful nationwide movement against gender-based violence.
Across Kenya, PEPFAR’s DREAMS partnership is supporting young women to lead safe and healthy lives free from HIV.
"I now live in my own house and my sisters are back at school. Thank you for giving me hope."
“I am now a rice farmer who is independent and can fight for my rights and those of others.”
“I am grateful to be able to afford to buy my medication and earn a living at the same time."
"DREAMS gave me a new lease of life – I have my confidence back, I’m independent, and can pay my siblings fees and house rent. I can now live AIDS-free.”
"When my dream of becoming a teacher came true, everyone in my community, including my husband, was very proud."
“I was in a place where I could not be seen but I am now visible."
"I now make hair locks, get paid and save, and hope to have a salon of my own. Getting involved with DREAMS gave me hope and skills to become independent.”
“I now practice photography as a career and I get jobs and get paid for it."
"DREAMS has transformed me into a salaried, well-respected, and confident young woman.”
“I was able to sit for my national exams and proceed with my nursing course because of DREAMS support.”