- a young women's economic strengthening story -

If it were not for the DREAMS program, I think that I would have been no more... since this program came into my life, everything changed, and I am now alive and well.

(Millicent Nyaram)

"PEPFAR gives healing"

PEPFAR Kenya gives hope and healing through....

equipping young women to re-write their stories with economic strengthening tools

PEPFAR's DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) program in Kenya provides age-appropriate, multi-layered comprehensive HIV and violence prevention interventions that work at individual, small group and community levels to address vulnerabilities and risks associated with HIV infections. The program collaborates with development partners, private sector, and partner governments to deliver a core package of interventions that combine evidence-based approaches that go beyond the health sector, addressing the structural drivers that directly and indirectly increase girls’ HIV risk. Not only is DREAMS an effort to reduce new HIV infections, but it also aims to reduce other critical vulnerabilities such as financial dependence and gender-based violence. When girls and young women thrive, the effects are felt throughout their families, communities and countries.

Millicent is one of PEPFAR's DREAMS Heroes, and a beneficiary of a comprehensive economic strengthening program offered as a secondary intervention to the most vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) who are out of school. The program is offered in a multi-layered approach, with all AGYW completing a financial literacy training to learn the best ways of getting income and savings. Older girls (18-24 years) are prioritized for entrepreneurship training that provides them the opportunity to develop action-oriented business plans. All this, alongside the core DREAMS package, is geared towards enabling AGYW to choose the best pathway for their livelihood support. The choices of what to pursue for their career path are supported by annual market assessments to inform their decision with awareness of demanded services. These in turn shape the trainings to be prioritized. Millicent is one of the beneficiaries of PEPFAR's comprehensive economic strengthening interventions, demonstrating the DREAMS partnership with ESSILOR, a private sector initiative to expand ophthalmology services. The program has expanded partnership over the years to impact the lives of thousands of women and girls like Millicent, as a key component of PEPFAR’s mission to help countries achieve HIV epidemic control.




(Impact statements from interviews with Millicent in Homa Bay, Kenya)


"My name is Millicent Nyaram Nyaidho, and this is my story of hope…


I'm a 26 year old young woman from Homabay County. I was brought up in a family of six and my dad died and left us behind with my mom, who took good care of us. Despite her being a peasant farmer, she managed to educate me up to form four level.


One day my mom fell ill and could no longer continue educating me. There was no family member to take good care of her, so I was forced to move with her in various hospitals and worship centers. There was no source of income in the family, so I decided to sell almost everything in the home, including household items to cater for her bills in the hospital. Later on I discovered that she was HIV positive, but she did not disclose this to me.


Since there was no source of income, I decided to involve myself in premarital sex. From there I conceived and had my first born. Life became more difficult. My aunt visited us and saw the situation. She decided to take me with her, but when we were with her the story changed… My aunt took me to another man, who I got married to, and had a second child. In that marriage, I underwent intimate-partner violence - a lot.


By good luck, in 2019, I discovered the DREAMS program was going on in my area. I enrolled in the program, and from there, I received so many interventions. I was tested on HIV and AIDS and also screened on GBV. I was informed of PrEP and PEP. I was also facilitated on financial capability and entrepreneurship. I was involved in a young women’s village savings and loan (VSLA) group.

PEPFAR’s DREAMS program also helped me gain technical skills for a new profession; I was trained as an ophthalmic optician at Eye Rafiki Training Institute in Eldoret in 2021. In 2022, I got a position at Othoro Level 4 hospital, and I'm now managing the eye clinic at Othoro Hospital.


I would like to really thank PEPFAR, CDC, and the LVCT Health program for having supported me. Now I am an optician, I can provide for myself and my children, and I am no longer vulnerable or dependent on others. If it were not for this program, I would have not been like this. I am now a determined, resilient, empowered, AIDS-free, mentored, and safe young woman, and I look forward to pursuing my dream of becoming an ophthalmologist.”


- a pepfar Kenya story of hope -