26 January 2012
The isolation often felt by people living with HIV in Malawi is being tackled by churches through a Tearfund project.
Our partner Eagles is running training workshops for pastors equipping them to meet the practical and social needs of those living with HIV, not just their spiritual ones.
Despite strides in education and promoting awareness, discrimination concerning the condition, which affects 920,000 Malawians according to UNAIDS, is still a major problem.
Eagles’ work aims to help people living with HIV become active members of their community who can support themselves.
A recent round of training saw representatives from more than 40 villages in central and southern Malawi take part.
This resulted in the churches and communities involved setting up support groups for people living with HIV and providing home-based care for families.
They are also helping 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.
Shaibu and his wife Mercy, from Govala village, are both living with HIV. The help they have received from their local church means they can now grow 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.’