Photo: Ralph Hodgson/Tearfund
In Malawi, the isolation often felt by people living with HIV is getting tackled by churches through a Tearfund project. Our partner in Malawi, Eagles, is running training workshops for pastors in the area, equipping them to meet the practical and social needs of those living with HIV and not just their spiritual needs.
HIV in Malawi is an epidemic currently effecting around 920,000 Malawians. Despite huge strides made in education and promoting awareness, discrimination and prejudice about the condition continues to be a major problem.
Eagles work aims to help those living with HIV become active members of their community who can support themselves. Representatives from more than 40 villages in central and southern Malawi recently took part in a round of training – this resulted in the churches and communities involved setting up support groups for people living with HIV and providing home-based care for families.
Eagles also help people living with HIV grow their own food as well as providing education for the wider community, through drama and other activities, about how to avoid contracting HIV.
Shabibu and his wife Mercy, from Govala village are both living with HIV. The help they’ve received from their local church means they can now grown their own vegetables and consequently enjoy better nutrition and health. The sense of exclusion they previously felt has also been removed.
Shaibu said, ‘Our lives have been utterly transformed. We can now mix with other people in the village and take part in activities here.'
Bwayaya, a young father from Matumbi, has also seen the impact of church members coming alongside him. ‘I had no friends to visit and encourage me. I was like an orphan. But now my life has changed – I’m able to walk around, do some work and even help others.'
Watch our film featuring Cuthbert Gondwe from Eagles.
A little history ...
Tearfund works in partnership with 11 Christian organisations and church development departments across Malawi, focusing in particular on disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, food security, children at risk, HIV, water and sanitation, as well as advocacy.
Our work began in 1998 through the Evangelical Association of Malawi, and through partners this work is reaching now more than a million people.
In April 2008, Tearfund established a country office in Lilongwe to provide administrative as well as technical support to the 11 partners who are implementing the various projects and programmes. This has improved the quality of services to poor communities through increased capacity building and monitoring of partners’ project activities. In recent years, Tearfund supporters have been introduced to our long-term work in Malawi through the evolving story of Fombe village in the southern region of Chikwawa.
Tearfund partner Eagles began working in Fombe, among other villages, during the food crisis of 2002, and has moved beyond providing emergency relief to mobilising the church to respond to the development needs of the community.
As a result of the church’s work, the community has created vegetable gardens, established community-based childcare centres and drilled boreholes to provide clean safe water. Before, most women could not read or write, but now, thanks to an adult literacy school, 65 per cent of women in the village can read.