Fighting the Infection – with Andreia Fausto 

One of Ungweru’s project objectives is to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS. Malawi has one of the highest adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world. We delivered a session at different ASGs (Aids Support Group) in HIV/ AIDS: ways of transmission, HIV in pregnancy, antivirals and how to live positively with the virus. For some of us it was the first time we were meeting individuals infected with HIV. All of us were very enthusiastic, if a little nervous. We wanted to listen to their experiences, know what support they were requesting, and how could we help them.

When we arrived at Ekaiweni ASG we were received with a welcome dance, we found happy people full of energy and very interested in receiving us and learn from us. During the session, we explained that women are particularly vulnerable to HIV contraction in Malawi, because gender inequality combined with widespread poverty has resulted in asymmetrical sexual relations. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Malawi, with approximately 910,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.

The main reason for the high prevalence is mainly due to polygamy practiced by man, since some men still believe that abstinence and condom use “go against nature”. After the session we cooked together traditional Malawian food and we came home grateful for the brilliant time we had together.

Gabriel reports on HIV prevention and awareness to Lapaso primary school.

Group Dynamics – with Dan O’Brien 

One of the many developmental barriers the people of Malawi are faced with, is that in the context of a CBO (Community Based Organisation) or other group, they often find it difficult to organise themselves into a structured, dynamic and productive committee. If your community leaders can’t work together, then you’re not developing any time soon. Dan O’Brien reports on delivering sessions on group dynamics and committee roles and responsibilities...

To be honest, I didn't know anything at all about the specifics of being in a committee just a few weeks ago. The turnaround between learning the basics and teaching them was swift, to say the least. There are set roles and responsibilities, as you’d imagine. Three vital ones; the chairperson, the secretary and the treasurer, and without these it’s not a committee. There are other possible ones as well and when things aren’t done well, things don’t go well.

The session we delivered was firstly in English by myself, before being translated (and probably improved) by Gabby. Considering I hadn’t ever spoken in front of a room full of strangers, let alone tried to teach one, I actually surprised myself with how few nerves I had. I’ve put that down to the fact that hardly any of the people I was trying to teach could understand me, but I’m sure it still counts.

Andreia and Abraham present on committee roles and responsibilities at Tivwirane.