HIV is prevalent in every country throughout the world. Here in Malawi HIV and AIDS affects over 11% of the population, with 95% of those infected living in rural communities. Although they do have access to medication they do not always have access to the support. Those who are HIV positive can sometimes face stigmatisation, low self – esteem and isolation of themselves from others, and often they have no one to turn to for support. In Mzuzu Ungweru have organised and help set up Aids Support Groups (ASG) in the rural communities. The ASG’s provide weekly meetings which provide the support that otherwise members in some areas would not have access to. During the ten week placement here in Mzuzu Team Lupya have been working alongside Ungweru to provide much needed support to these ASG’s here in Mzuzu by attending weekly meetings and delivering sessions on important subjects.  

During the previous two weeks Team Lupya have successfully visited four different ASG’s across Mzuzu. During the sessions the team have raised important issues and offered them a friendly face that they can talk to. National volunteer, Hardley, delivered a nutrition session on the importance of healthy eating and maintaining a balanced diet which is crucial for those who suffer from HIV and AIDS to help strengthen their immune system and ensure they have lots of energy to carry out daily tasks. National volunteer Victor also delivered a session on HIV and Religion. Victor delivered this session with compassion and sensitivity and made the communities aware that while they attend church they still need to be taking their medication. These sessions allowed the members to voice their opinions on important topics. Volunteers and members also shared stories of stigmatisation they have faced in the past, played games, sang songs and ate lunch with one another. The group therapy sessions helped create a friendly and safe environment where everyone can be open. 

International volunteer Ellie Hinde commented saying ‘At Ekwaeni the members took active participation in the sessions delivered. It was a really fun day and a happy environment was created. The aim of these days is to create a nice atmosphere for the members and I can definitely say that this was achieved.’

Despite the work of Ungweru and Team Lupya there are still people who suffer from HIV and AIDS and are not members of the ASG’s. Ungweru, in their long term goals, would like to increase membership to reach as many people as possible who are infected.   

Written by ICS volunteer Charlotte Kennedy