Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TOT volunteers mobilize community for HIV/AIDS messages

By Stanley Mpasa
The Trainer of Trainers (TOT) project volunteers have raised the alarm on the dangers of bad customs that facilitate the transmission of the HIV virus in the community through an open day function at Mbiza in Mulanje District.  The function took place on Sunday, August 17 and was spiced by drama, dances, poem recital, testimonies and speeches, all depicting the realities of HIV/AIDS and emphasizing on the importance of HIV testing.
Though the function collided with the chief’s coronation ceremony a few kilometers from the venue, over 800 people had attended.

Peterson Kamanga and other invited guests at the function
The function revealed several gaps in the fight against HIV/AIDS and they included low community compliance to the preventive messages, poor accessibility to condoms and harmful customs, among others. 
Common among harmful customs were the initiation ceremonies where boys and girls were taught sex theories and later encouraged them to put them into practice. Apart from the spread of HIV, the initiation ceremonies have also increased early pregnancies, early marriages and school drop outs especially among girls.
Mbiza support group members singing during the function
Speaking at the function South Malawi Field Health and Music Director Peterson Kamanga who was also Guest of Honor cautioned the young against engaging in risky behaviors that would encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS.   Mbiza Health Center Medical Officer, Mr Pindani commanded the work done by TOT volunteers. He disclosed that 30% of the 15000 people that have undergone HIV tests from the beginning of 2014 at the health center were referred by the TOT volunteers. Mr Pindani however bemoaned the low turn up by men for HIV tests.
A member of Mbiza Support Group Eneles Eliya testified how she lived positively with the HIV virus since 2001. She encouraged people to go for testing. Speaking earlier, Village Head Muhiya thanked the organizers for choosing his village as venue for the function and urged his subjects to take the messages seriously.
Other invited guests at the function included chiefs, pastors, teachers and medical staff.
The TOT Project is being supported by Sweden to bring about society and individual behavioral change on issues of HIV/AIDS.


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