Reclaiming Our Lives
HIV and AIDS, women’s land and property rights and livelihoods in southern and East Africa: Narratives and responses

Kaori Izumi (ed)

238mm x 162mm
R 110.00
ISBN: 0-7969-2136-9
May 2006


Property-grabbing from widows and orphans began long before the HIV and AIDS pandemic. However, the scale of HIV infection rates, stigmatisation, and the social and economic vulnerability of widows and orphans have worsened the situation. Targets of psychological and physical harassment, dispossessed of their property and evicted form their homes, women and children are left destitute.

Too often, the personal stories of both hardship and resilience in the face of adversity are lost in the statistics and dry overviews of national policies and epidemiological trends. Excluded from statistics, these women and children become invisible.

This collection of narratives from southern and East Africa aims to raise awareness not only about the heavy impact of HIV and AIDS in the region but also about the active steps being taken by many grassroots organizations to respond to the crisis. It is evident that, while the pandemic is biting deeply into the social fabric of communities, it is also galvanising ordinary women and men to respond with compassion and conviction, and to find innovative ways of defending and promoting the rights of HIV-affected women and children.

These stories expose the immense human cost of discriminatory laws and practices, and pointing to the social, policy and legislative changes that are necessary to combat the pandemic effectively.


HIV and AIDS as an opportunity to advance women ’s property rights – Kaori Izumi


  • Dreaming a piece of land – Alice Karoki
  • One day when I get better... – Anna Ndonge
  • Anna goes on safari – Joyce Mayua
  • Home-based carer in Mathare – Ann Wanjiru
  • Women video-producers becoming land owners – Mary Njeri Kamanande
  • AIDS took my son and my property – Beatrice Wanjiru Muguiyi
  • Investing in grassroots women – Esther Mwaura-Mviru
  • Transforming home-based care groups into business groups – Lucy Muguiyi Njuguna


  • If we had co-ownership of land – Constance Niwagaba
  • Suffering is not dying – one day... – Edvina Kyoheirwe
  • HIV gave me a longer and meaningful life - surviving domestic violence, HIV and AIDS and property-grabbing – Flavia Kyomukama
  • Memory Book Project – liberated from secrecy and becoming accountable to our children – Beatrice Were


  • Land of our own – Pelagia Katunzi
  • No male child – no land – Zawadi Kaatano


  • ‘Bonanza (good luck)’ is over – Kidan Felomon


  • 6 graves – Theresa Chilala
  • Victim Support Unit – Peter Kanunka 
  •  Justice for Widows and Orphans Project – Florence Shakafuswa


  • Grave exhumed, house demolished and granary burned – Marvis Hadziucheri 
  •  Recovered property and recovered my life – Rudo Chiwandire
  • From tears to laughter – Susan Zwinoira
  • Disability, IV and AIDS and poverty - Struggles of mothers of children with disability – Theresa Makwara


  • Swazi positive women agricultural cooperatives – Siphwe Hlope

South Africa

  • Overcoming the stigma of HIV and AIDS – Nomawethu Shumani
  • Making the law known and enforceable – Sibongile Ndashe


  • Step by step – the road to recovery – Mukabalisa
  • Networking women for peace-making – Mary Balikunger

Conclusion – Kaori Izumi