Sunday, June 28, 2009

Women of Mukakhe Village Join the Fray

Mukakhe is one of the villages in Kalinde area in Migowi, Phalombe where the ADRA Malawi’s Let Fight AIDS in Malawi (LEFAM) Project is doing its activities in helping to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic, food security, home based care of the chronically ill etc.

To achieve its goals the project formed groups of women to discuss issues that are thorny in their communities and find solutions to these problems. Realizing that they are not part of the women’s group that was formed, other women in this village, led by Alefa Maiwala and Edna Magodi, were impressed with the good work that the Organization is doing in the village and felt they could lend a hand. They decided to mobilize other women and form their own group to help in what the ADRA women were doing. They also decided to go further by getting involved in message dissemination through dances and drama and strengthening food security and nutrition by setting up a group vegetable garden and encouraging the setting up of kitchen gardens in the village.

The group has gone further to lobby for the provision of safe water sources within the village, which has no borehole or water tap despite its size and population through knowledge attained from ADRA activities. These women also harbor the ambition of improving the members’ economic status through saving and lending.

Realizing the power of drama, yet not having any experience in drama, the group approached ADRA Community Worker in the area for some coaching. Since this was a separate group from ADRA’s group they had limited resources. They needed some seeds for the garden to supplement what they had contributed and bought. They also needed some equipment like drums for the dances. To make sure that their efforts are not in vain the group has been granted permission to use whatever equipment that is available within the ADRA groups.

The group was formed in April this year and has so far 25 members. As of now, they have set up the vegetable garden and planted using the seedlings they bought and what was donated by the Community Worker. ADRA regularly visits the group to encourage and build their capacity, through demonstrations, on how to make sunken beds, plant seedlings and mulch to preserve moisture and reduce watering frequency.

What is interesting with the group is that the village Chief tries to attend the group’s meetings and supports them in their activities. This makes ADRA feel that with some support, this group will be an important partner in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Author: Stanley Mpasa - District Coordinator

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

TOT strategy breaks walls of stigma

No one could imagine that the deep rooted and high walls of stigma can easily fall in Kabwazi village community North of Ntcheu.

History tells that for a long time people had been denying the reality of HIV/AIDS since the epidemic was known in the late 1980s. In the recent past, several non-governmental organizations have implemented projects to boost HIV/AIDS awareness in this community but behaviour change remained a challenge. HIV/AIDS continued to be viewed as a family disease other than community one, thereby marginalizing those associated with it.
Going for voluntarily counseling and testing (VCT) was made secret and the HIV status of a person could be hidden. Even if some body had died of apparent symptoms of AIDS, public information emphasized that the deceased was a victim of witchcraft or died of a mysterious illness leaving people to conclude intrinsically that it was AIDS. But with the coming of the TOT approach to the HIV/AIDS problem in the community where counseling services have been tailored with preservation of rights of vulnerable groups especially those living with HIV/AIDS, the face of the pandemic has changed.
According to Moses Kapolo, one of the TOTs working in Kabwazi community a series of open forums on HIV/AIDS issues facilitated by the trainers have reduced levels of confidentiality as many people can now openly disclose their HIV/AIDS status. He says that the number of people who disclose their HIV status has increased and he use some of them as role models to reach out to other people.

The village head Kabwazi has given out one of his houses as a village counseling centre. Moses Kapolo is happy that he can now attend to more people per day for counseling. He says that those counseled include couples. According to Moses, his village would be safe if the trend continues because every person in the village would be aware of his or her status.

He also hinted that the Counselors have embarked on exchange visits in order to reach out to many people. In a dramatic turn of events, HIV/AIDS in Kabwazi village is viewed as community problem and many people including the village head himself admit that the pandemic need collective solutions to defeat

Author: Judith Chirwa - TOT site coordinator

Monday, June 1, 2009

Handover of bicycle ambulance

On Friday the 15th of May ADRA Malawi handed over a new bicycle ambulance to Ndunde site in Chiradzulu. The ambulance was donated by private donors from Denmark through ADRA Malawi’s partner organisation ADRA Denmark.  

Present at the handover were representatives from ADRA Denmark communication officers Lise Jensen and Mette Hansen, the village chiefs, the ADRA community facilitator and health assistants. After a small formal function the bicycle ambulance was taken in use and tried by the health assistants. The ADRA community facilitator said, “We are very grateful for this precious gift. It will help many people in our community. Zikomo Kwambiri!”

The bicycle ambulance will be attached to Ndunde Health Clinic. The clinic serves 17000 people from the surrounding 49 villages. 250 people are treated at the clinic each day.

The bicycle ambulance will take patients from the villages to the health clinic. The advantages of having a bicycle ambulance at the local health clinics are numerous. As Stanley Mpasa District Coordinator from Mulanje district explains:

“There are very few ambulances in the districts and people who are critically ill have to wait for hours to be taken to the hospital. With the bicycle ambulance, patients can be taken to the local health clinics for preliminary treatment, while they wait to go to the hospital. Furthermore, the bicycle ambulances are able to drive on the smaller roads where ordinary ambulances cannot go. And lastly, the people in the villages have bicycles already and they can maintain the ambulances themselves”.

ADRA Malawi and ADRA Denmark will continue their efforts in providing bicycle ambulances to as many communities as possible.


Author: Lise Grauenk√¶r Jensen - ADRA Denmark