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Mary “Mum” Wanderi

Mum, as she is fondly referred to by staff and participants alike, is the brain and engine behind Living Positive Kenya.

“Being in the slums, I grew up seeing so many social challenges among the women,” she says. “I grew up watching so many struggles to bring up their children. My desire was always to work with the women and support them.

“I often saw a lot of social workers coming in to support people. Those were the people I wanted to be like. Since I was a kid, I knew what I wanted to do.”

Mum pursued her passion and went on to study Social Work and Community Development in Western Kenya.

The inspiration for LPK came from her hard-working mother, who moved to the slums after divorcing her husband. She worked herself to the bone, creating small businesses here and there in order to provide for her eight children all on her own. “That’s why I really believe in the strength of these women,” she says. “They can’t give up on their lives, and they must take responsibility for bringing up their children so that they are not brought up in institutions.”

In the ten years since LPK’s creation, Mum has watched her beautiful “daughters” grow into beautiful women in the program. She has helped countless women battle the stigma around their HIV status, taught them to love themselves again and forgive those who rejected them and given them the tools, skills, and knowledge to support themselves and their families. She has given children the opportunity to go to school. She’s given families the opportunity to grow together. Mum has taken great care of her family.

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