What do you consider to be your organisation’s greatest achievement to date?
We were the first organisation in Rumphi District to implement comprehensive mobile HIV testing and counselling in the hard-to-reach areas and we have therefore contributed to preventing new HIV infections among young people. In addition we have restored hope in many children who have received help from us in various forms, such as nutritional assistance, school uniforms, blankets and psychosocial support.
I have seen real change in the lives of children and their families since we started receiving support from Egmont Trust, and this makes me encouraged that I am doing something.
Can you give us an example?
Bernadeta is a 65-year-old widow with 6 children; she lost her husband some time back. She stays with 5 grandchildren who are orphans. Economically she struggles to raise money for the family despite having a big piece of land. Two of her grandchildren were tested during a HAWIP outreach programme for primary schools and both of them tested HIV-positive.
When the counsellors went to tell her as the guardian of the children – according to our HIV Counselling and Testing policy we are not suppose to break the HIV results to a child below the age of 12 – she was shocked with the news because she never thought the children could have HIV. Her misconception was that HIV is for adults only. After counselling she was very happy with the initiative because the two children, who were frequently suffering different illnesses, were referred to the hospital and initiated on treatment. Now they are both very healthy, and Bernadeta is able to do all her farming activities.
The children were also given school uniforms, blankets and two goats for their nutritional requirement. The headmaster commended HAWIP for the support it offered to the two children; he said their attendance and class participation has really improved compared to the past when their absenteeism was high due to illness.