Thursday, August 22, 2013

STI cases drop at Ekwaiweni HC in Mzimba

By Susan Chitaya and Elias Banda

Cases of sexually transmitted infections have dropped at Ekwaiweni Health Center in Mzimba after a mass behavior change campaign courtesy of Tafika Youth Organization.

Records at the health center reveal that STI cases have dropped from 9  to 1 per month. An official at the clinic who declined to be named said the drop is attributed to heightened awareness levels as people were now easily accessing information on STI and HIV/AIDS.
traditional Ingoma dance mobilized people
Youth used banners to convey messages

In November 2012, Tafika Youth Group launched a behavioral change  campaign with funds from ADRA Malawi  through the Action for Social Change program. According to the organization’s Executive Director Shupo Kumwenda the goal of the campaign was to educate and create community awareness on matters of stigma and discrimination with regard to HIV/AIDS. He also said the other objective was to advocate for safer sex and other acceptable behaviors among the youths in the area.

Apart from the drop in STI cases, other notable changes include the low school drop out at Ekwaiweni Primary School. 'Girls with a vision’ clubs have been formed to encourage peers to go back to school and refrain from delinquencies such as beer drinking and prostitution. According to Shupo Kumwenda the clubs are engaging women role models in their activities to encourage the girls to put education as a priority.  
the campaign attracted huge crowds

A youth network has been established to link the community and the youths and recently, the network constructed 2 teachers houses at Chipapa and Malivenji primary schools and toilet blocks at Ekwaiweni Primary School.

The network is also collaborating with Malawi Police Service to curb crime in the area. By-laws have been formulated restricting beer drinking and bars have been ordered to close at 10 o’clock pm. A community consensus has been reached that anyone found drinking beyond the closing time would be arrested. The situation has brought sanity in the area, reviving hopes for a better community and future for the young people.
Tafika Youth Organization plans to build a Youth Center where the youth would acquire life skills and other friendly services.  

The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Mzimba, Lilongwe, Mulanje and Machinga distritcs.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LL Man nearly died after dumping HIV medicine for faith healing

By James Masauko
A Lilongwe man knocked on the doors of death after dumping Anti-retroviral drugs ARVs when he opted for faith healing. Manjalera Thutambala Banda of Kaole Village Traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe tested HIV positive in 2006 and has since been on life –prolonging drugs.
 Banda joined a new church on April 28 this year and a pastor advised him to stop medication as church rules required that those on prayer list were not allowed to take any medicine.  
He then went into prayer sessions and after a night long of prayers at Area 23 in the city,  the pastor assured Banda that he was healed. Overwhelmed by excitement Banda went on rampage breaking the news and threw away all the medicines before dropping as a member of Tiyanjane Support Group where he had been an affiliate for more than six years.
Attempts by support group members failed to convince Banda to revert to medication or seek verification of his blood status at Kan’goma Health Center. But a few months later things began to change as Banda started developing health complications that included sores all over the body, recurrent fever and bouts of diarrhea. His pastor insisted that the ailments would vanish if he continued praying hard which Banda did but instead his condition worsened.
Banda pose for a photograph in front of his house
Banda’s condition became unbearable and was temporarily admitted at Kango’ma Health Center before being referred to the Light House in the City where he resumed taking ARVs. Speaking in an interview, Banda admitted that his health was improving and has since dropped membership at his church and joined another one because he could no longer satisfy conditions at the church.
Banda has now been reintegrated at the Tiyanjane Support Group and his testimony sends serous warnings about how community members especially those on ARV should treat HIV medication. Banda is now actively involved sensitizing people about the dangers of abandoning medication.
ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program is strengthening 3 support groups in Traditional Authority Tsabango to advocate for better services and the reduction of stigma and discrimination on matters of HIV/AIDS.  The increased number of support groups and membership has created an enabling environment for people to openly declare their HIV/AIDS status and community acceptance. The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Lilongwe, Machinga, Mzimba and Mulanje.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mgumera community constructs house for the aged

 By Redson Damalekani
In what appears to be a rare activity, the Mgumera community in Mulanje is constructing a house for an old man, who has been abandoned by his relatives. Moffat Maganga, 99 fell out of grace from his relatives after they suspected him with superstitious acts and witchcraft and has been discarded by the wider community for 11 years. His wife and children died several years ago.
 The degree of misery and poverty as Moffat advances in age triggered community attention, prompting the Mgumera REFLECT circle to table the matter and discuss a lasting solution.  The circle resolved that a house be constructed for Moffat Maganga, whose health status declined due to lack food and other basic necessities and his house was on the verge of collapsing.
The community hatched a plan to mould bricks three months ago and construction of the superstructure has started.  A community member who declined to be named said this was a landmark activity in the village and has not been witnessed for more than 30 years.
Mgumera REFLECT Circle in session
part of Moffat's dilapidated house
A house for Moffat under construction
It is common practice that when people are aged, they are suspected of being involved in witchcraft and many have been abandoned to die while in isolation. However, the Mgumera REFLECT Circle is trying to prove this notion wrong by extending love to the vulnerable and marginalized members of the community including the aged.
The construction of the house brought smiles back on Moffat face as he feels being part of the community. Apart from the house, the circle would support him with food and other basic items.
ADRA Malawi, with support from Denmark has facilitated formation and is empowering seven RELFLECT Circles in Mulanje District.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Snake falls from tree while pupils are learning

By Elias Banda
Hell broke loose when a  snake fell from the tree while pupils were learning at Khwalala Primary School in Mulanje District, causing fear and panic among the learners. Calm and order were restored when the snake was killed though  lessons failed to continue.
Confirming the incident, Group Village Head Khwalala said the snake called Namasamba in local language fell during  a class session but no casualties were reported.
Pupils at the school especially those of lower classes learn on open grounds and under the trees due to shortage of school blocks. School Head Teacher Dickens Hapala said an interview that his school has 20 classes but with only 8 classrooms, forcing 12 classes to learn on open grounds. He said the situation is aggravated during rainy season when it becomes difficult to learn from outside and absenteeisms are considerably high when the ground is wet. Hapala said some pupils were accommodated in the near by church building under desperate circumstances.
Mary Gedion, member of the school committee said children are forced to sit on the dusty ground because the school does not have enough desks, making it difficult for learners to write.
Last year,  the school committee mobilized the community to mold 150, 000 bricks in an attempt to attract government attention but all efforts proved futile after three years elapsed without any response.
ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Program established the Radio Listeners Club in the area as a platform where the community would discuss issues that affect them. The program would be aired on the public broadcasting station and hopes were higher that they would be assisted through the wider audience.  And during their first radio program, the community recorded the issue on shortage of school blocks and engaged a duty bearer from the Ministry of Gender and Community Development. The community is optimist that after the radio program, school blocks would be built at Khwalala.
The Action for Social Change is supported by Denmark to bring about society and individual change in Mulanje, Machinga, Lilongwe and Mzimba Districts.