Claire is one of GHI’s Menyanibi Mamas (health workers). Usually, she wakes up at 5am to cook, clean and get her kids to school, but this week she’s been getting up at 3am. Each day since Monday, she and two other GHI health workers, Anunciata and Solange,  have traveled two hours each way to Bugasera to train 58 Community Health Workers (CHW).

At 9:45am, Claire, Anunciata and Solange start the training at Bugasera with song and dance. Three of the oldest CHWs, who are all women, come to the front of the room to lead the group in call and response. Women begin clapping and stomping, and pretty soon Anunciata is drumming on the desk, filling the outdoor classroom with rhythm.

Claire stomps along, flashing her bright smile and waving her arms methodically. When the song begins to die down, Claire changes the beat, leading the group in a new chorus.

After almost ten minutes of grooving, the women return to their seats and Claire begins her favorite part of the job. Armed with just a few laminated posters, Claire engages the CHWs in a discussion of family planning for over an hour. She walks around the room, circling the rows of benches, raising her arms and voice to emphasize particularly important topics.

When the training breaks for lunch, Claire follows Anunciata and Solange to the car and practically collapses on the seat. She denies any food, claiming her stomach is bothering her, and sits quietly with her eyes shut until it is time to return to the classroom.

Claire  begins the afternoon lesson, smiling and singing, with as much gusto as the morning session. At the end of the day, all of the CHWs thank Claire, Anunciata and Solange before filing out.

Not until we are safely back in the car does Claire allow her muscles to relax and her eyes to shut. She says that this week has tired her more than others, that she must get up early to clean and cook for her children and bring them to school, that she has to do all of this by herself because her husband has been in bed sick for four months. But, she adds, she must also work. Having a job brings in salary, but having this job gives her purpose.

Claire explains that since she is HIV positive, like her husband and middle daughter, Bobette, she is determined to be a strong, positive role model for all of the community mothers. She wants to help others avoid her fate. “I want to be a rock star for all of the women. I want to change them,” she says.