My name is Ethel Msusa, am 23 years old and single, I have Malawi School Leaving Certificate which I obtained in 2012. I also have a certificate of attendance in Electronics.

On 21st October my team and I went to Mfera Health Centre where we conducted a meeting with two support groups, Chisomo and Tigwilizane support groups.

At first we did our introductions and explained that the aim of our visit was that we want to help them change their lives.  The community was slightly worried as many organisations have been visiting them and promise to do something for them but they don’t fulfil their promises.  These people face so many challenges in their lives; some from the community members and also from their families, but the biggest challenge that they face is discrimination. These people also have some skills that they can be doing such as gardening, sewing and livestock farming but they don’t as they are lacking the funds to start up a business.

So our team discussed how we can help them, since they have the skills we thought of helping them start up a garden, where they contribute a small amount of money for the seedlings and then share the profits and products.  We are also looking into a livestock farming project as one of our special activities.  The ICS team are also using their own skills to help, with one of our team helping to teach local women how to make clothes by hand.

As an in-country volunteer I feel bad when I hear about discrimination because that time is gone , I do understand that in the past people didn’t know about HIV and they thought they can be infected just by talking or touching the person who has HIV, but since so many organisations took part in conducting so many awareness campaigns telling the people about HIV and reaching today people have knowledge so I don’t think there is any need of discrimination; what we need to do is to talk to them and show them our love and by doing that their life won’t be the same and they will be living a happy life.

HIV and AIDS in Malawi taken as something that can’t be defeated but I think if we all stand together and fight we can defeat it. We can work hand in hand with Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS and conduct as many as awareness campaigns as we can to tell people how to prevent transmission of HIV and how to live a fruitful life positively!

In the next meeting I am looking forward to see the people happy doing the garden and I want to hear the decisions they have made, apart from that I want to see them changing their lives.  

Author: Ethel Msusa (In-country volunteer, Malawi)