Monday, August 3, 2009

Towards a Better Future

In as much as many organizations and nations have tried to diminish the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, it still remains one of the most serious public health and development challenges. Malawi is one of the countries HIV/AIDS has been affected tremendously. The AIDS epidemic is responsible for eight deaths every hour in Malawi[1]. Out of a population of nearly 14 million, almost one million people were living with HIV at the end of 2007, with numbers infected increasing[2]. Not only does HIV/AIDS worsen poverty but it also renders a women and children vulnerable, as there are nearly one million orphans today in Malawi with women relatives being those most likely to become caregivers and providers, stretching already severely limited resources.

Yankho Konyani, ADRA M&E Assistant with the Tiyambe IGA Group

This is where ADRA Malawi, through Lets Fight AIDS in Malawi (LEFAM) project, decided to provide support. The project aims to empower Malawians both living with HIV/AIDS as well as the caretakers, orphans and the elderly to have access to their human rights such as education, food security and non-discrimination. In view of this the project introduced an initiative of Income generating activities (IGAs) early this year to financially empower communities to care for those impacted by HIV. As of now IGA group committees have been elected and trained in the targeted sites with business beginning this month.

Upon visiting one of the sites, Ntaja, we spent time with one IGA group, called Tiyambe IGA committee, who had chosen to do business selling cooking oil and flour for baking cakes and doughnuts. It is quite a vibrant group and optimistic that the business will thrive tremendously as the chairman Mr. Samuel Banda said “anthu kuno amadya kwambiri zithu zokanzinga mafuta” meaning that a lot of people use cooking oil in preparing their food in the area.

The group is very happy with the initiative because they have already planned that 40% of their profit will go to the orphans, the elderly, the chronically ill and the poor. Their vision is to see vulnerable groups benefit through having enough food, medicine, good education, clothes, soap and shelter. They are convinced their community will no longer be the same and this is all thanks to ADRA for providing not just the capital and tools for the business, but hope and empowerment to provide assistance in their own community. This marks the beginning of a vibrant business and a better life for the community with more updates as progress arises from the business.

By Yankho Konyani and Kerryn Lodo

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[1] UNAIDS 2008 Report on the Global AIDS epidemic. Retrieved on the 29/7/2009 from http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/HIVData/GlobalReport/2008/

[2] Ministry of Health and Population, Malawi (2004), ‘Treatment of AIDS, the two year plan to scale up antiretroviral therapy in Malawi’. Retrieved on 28/7/2009 from http://www.avert.org/aids-malawi.htm