RUTH, THE PREP CHAMPION Ruth Rapando Odhiambo is a 23 year old Prep Champion who hails from Mur Ngiya Village, South East Alego Ward, Alego Usonga Sub-County in Siaya County. She has been married for the last six years and lives with her 3 year old baby boy. Born in a family of seven, she had a rough childhood with fights between the mother and the dad which forced her to move from their native home in Mumias to Kericho.

The mother took a job of a tea picker in Kericho and used her little earnings to cater for her seven children. Two years later the mother died of stomach cancer leaving Ruth motherless at the age of 12.

When my mother fell sick we went back home only to find my father remarried to a woman who did not want us. For three months, we nursed our mother but she was not getting better; she died. It was a very sad time for me. I cried my gut out but I could not bring her back. The cruelty of my step mum made me to go back to Kericho to stay with my sister who had been married there, narrates Ruth

In Kericho, the sister took her back to school and when waiting for her Kenya Certificate Primary Education results she got pregnant.

My brother in law asked me if I was pregnant and I said I wasnt. For sure I did not know I was pregnant. When it was confirmed that I was pregnant, my sister asked me to leave. I went to live with my aunt in Busia but unfortunately the husband died and she could not take care of me. I started selling groundnuts to help support my aunt in providing for me. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl and took care of her for a year before I went back to my sister in Kericho. I gave the baby to my sisters house-help to take care of her since my brother in law said they can only take me to secondary school if I get someone else to take the baby. So I joined form one, explains Ruth

In form four, she got pregnant again and was chased away from her sisters home. She went to live with a friend. Unfortunately, she lost the baby two weeks after it was born. She went back to school and managed to get a C+. In 2012, the father of her first born took the baby who was then living with Ruths other sister in Siaya. Ruth has never seen her baby since. At 18 years, she got married to her current husband.

It is at my matrimonial home where I was enrolled as a DREAMS Girl by IRDO staff. I have been trained on Financial Capabilities, Life Skills, PreP, Family Planning and Communications for free at the safe space. The trainings have given me the hope that I had lost. I was dead in my marriage and felt so powerless, said Ruth.

Currently, she is a PreP Champion who talks to other girls on the importance of staying HIV/AIDs free by using PreP.

I realized most girls get lost just because they do not have someone to guide them. I have therefore made it my business to guide them. From the financial capabilities classes, I started a chicken project using a loan I got from our girls savings and loans group. Currently, I have 20 chickens. I thank IRDO for every opportunity they create for me to champion Prep; a drug that can help girls to avoid HIV infection, especially girls who are married like me, concludes