Joana Phiri is an in-country ICS volunteer with Progressio in N’gabu, Malawi. As we prepare to mark World AIDS Day, Joana told us about her experience working alongside support groups for women living with HIV and AIDS. Find out what volunteers in Malawi are doing right now to combat stigma against HIV by reading Joana’s blog here.
“We went to N’gabu to visit four support groups for women living with HIV and AIDS. The main aim was to find out the problems they are facing and what they think the solutions to these problems might be.
“As volunteers, we helped by supporting their activities such as making awareness campaigns. Julia, a volunteer from the UK, even taught them how to make some things out of waste materials, such as bags that they can sell to raise funds.
“As an in-country volunteer, I was moved when I heard the women’s stories of discrimination. I am very willing to do something about it, if I get a chance.
“They said some village headmen don’t even include them in subsidy programs because they are ‘already dead’, so it will be a waste of resources. Also, they are not given chairs when they are having village meetings, because they are told they can pass HIV to their friends.
“We hope to achieve a lot in the next meetings. We hope to start a vegetable garden and we want to visit the children who are HIV positive and are being looked after by the Chisomo support group.
“These activities have helped me change my mind on how I think about HIV and AIDS in Malawi. I thought Malawi could never get rid of discrimination towards people with HIV, but now I think we can make a difference if we raise awareness. As women, we can really make a difference. Together we can.”
This project is ongoing and the full effects of the work Joana and her team are committed to may not be seen straight away. Having in-country volunteers like Joana working to combat stigma against HIV and AIDS means there will be a long term effect felt for generations.
To find out more about Progressio’s work with people living with HIV and AIDS, click here.
How Progressio stands alongside those affected by HIV and AIDS