We cannot believe it has been another two weeks already, with a jam packed schedule, proving to be both fun and enjoyable. To reach our targets we have been planting trees and soya beans and attending youth club meetings. So far we have surpassed our soya bean planting target and have planted over 70% of our pine tree seedlings. We have continued meeting our partner youth clubs in preparation for World Aids Day, taking place on the 1st March 2014; that we - as a group, are hosting.
Furthermore, we have been eased into other activities that correspond to our partner organisation’s (Ungweru’s) ethos of Education in Child Protection, Child Nutrition and HIV/AIDS. We have embraced this vision, jumping into class facilitation in various primary and secondary schools. We have found these extremely enjoyable and rewarding, especially the participation in the AIDS TOTO clubs. The schools that have been involved are Chibavi, Viyele and Mzuzu Foundation Primary Schools and Mndewa and Lupaso Secondary School's 'AIDS TOTO' clubs, all in neighbouring communities. The target audience ranges from 8 to 25 years of age. Planning for these sessions has been crucial in order to deliver the sessions effectively, as we’ve often been invited to schools last minute. We have conducted 10 sessions out of our target of 24.
Another activity that Ungweru have started implementing is the use of briquettes and clay cook stoves. This has been found to be sustainable and environmentally friendly in an areas susceptible to deforestation. We have had a couple of training sessions in briquettes and clay cook stove making, and in turn, have passed on our knowledge to the local community members, mostly female, in an attempt to expand its existence.
(All) "Bewu, Bewu"
This song, commonly sung in harmony in the various AIDS Support Groups (ASGs) that we visit, literally translates to 'HIV/AIDS is a real disease that could kill anyone'. We have delivered sessions on positive living, as well as sharing experiences on HIV/AIDS and its management with Dunduzu, Msiki and Ekwaiweni AIDS support groups.
We have also involved each group in nutrition based learning and discussions, sharing meals that we have cooked together as a group. The meals included all 6 Malawian food groups, including the national staple food, nsima, usipa – which we enjoy calling small ‘chambo’ due to the small size of the fish, kamuganji and ground nut relish, as well as treating ourselves and the group with beef chunks and bananas for dessert. We have found out later that this is a real delicacy for them, as they usually only eat beef once or twice a year at Christmas.
This has been a real eye opening experience for the volunteers, especially the UK ones, as this is the first ever time they have been in close contact with anyone that is HIV positive. Saying this, it has shown that these people are even stronger and have a bigger heart than anyone would expect, showing extreme determination and courage. A huge amount of emotions were circling whilst hearing each person’s story, and it is extremely hard to imagine how much they are discriminated against. However, the support groups and sessions can mean the world to them, as well as opening the eyes of others to allow such people in; as in the end, we are all brothers and sisters in this great world that we live in.
Written by volunteers from team Tikolerane