One of my favourite things to do when I am in Malawi is to visit one of Lifeline Malawi’s many Support Groups for People Living with AIDS (PLHIA). All members are HIV positive and are on anti-retroviral therapy. The groups are located throughout the district. They support each other by reminding the members to take care of their health and stay on their medicines. They will follow-up with a fellow member if that person defaults from the program. They also help to mobilize interest on the issues surrounding HIV, through discussion with local chiefs, and by demonstrating that there is life for People Living with AIDS. There are still many misconceptions about HIV and AIDS in Malawi. Outreach sessions by the group provide correct information to educate community members accurately.
We visited the most active of all the LM support groups on this trip into the community. We met in an open field, under a baobab tree. Very fitting for Lifeline Malawi! This group had been chosen as a test case for an economic empowerment project. The group had received a plot of land, given by a local chief. Nelson Chinchembere, the LM’s HIV Testing and Counselling Supervisor, along with Steve Russell and myself, arrived bearing gifts of maize and soya seed for planting. What followed under the shade of the huge baobab, were speeches, singing, refreshments, and the smiles of people with grateful hearts. One of our messages during our speeches this day, was to remind the women to get tested for cervical cancer at the Lifeline Malawi Health Centre.
This visit happened at the end of November, and last week, I was excited to receive photos of the growing crops. Nelson, who took the phots, visited the group bringing them fertilizer this time. Due to the over working of the limited available land for farming in Malawi, fertilizer is a necessity. However, the average person cannot afford such an expensive item. The donated fertilizer will guarantee abundant yields of their crops.
This is one of the many ways that Lifeline Malawi is working to change people’s lives. When you donate to Lifeline Malawi you become a blessing to people living with HIV and, in this case, to help them to be successful in Lifeline Malawi’s first economic empowerment project. Thank you for your support!