Monday, March 17, 2008

Malawi Report

Teddy Phiri, one of our Malawi contacts has sent this report about a family that we are supporting. This gives a good picture of the larger issues that this family and others affected by AIDS are facing. Further comments in italics.

This family of Mr and Mrs Ngwata live in Dunduzu area about 10 km from Mzuzu City. Both of them are on ARV treatment. (Anti-retroviral drugs suppress the symptoms of Aids and may allow the person to assume some of their responsbilities). One child died in January 2008. He was also on ARV treatment. They have had 8 children, 5 are still living. Their eldest, a daughter, just disappeared leaving behind two children. The last-born child who is 7 months old also shows signs of being HIV positive.

Discovery of HIV Status

The husband in 2004 became very sick. After tests at the hospital, he was diagnosed as HIV positive and the wife was also tested and she was found positive too. Immediately both of them were put on ARVs.

Community Support

They feel no segregation in the community despite their illness. The village Headman is very supportive to the family ever since they declared their HIV status openly. (in the past many people were isolated and shunned when their HIV status became known)

Acceptance by their Children

Both parents informed their children of their status. The children are very supportive to their parents. For example the oldest boy and daughter are the main income generators of the family through general farming and vegetable gardening. They always make sure that parents have taken the ARVs. Due to a shortage of fertilizer they mix fertilizer and maize husks in their vegetable gardens. The vegetables grow very well (This was a new lesson learnt by us).

(Because soils in Malawi are depleted by overfarming, chemical fertilizer is necessary . However, soil can only be rebuilt with organic matter such as compost and manure. These young farmers have made a good discovery)

The wife Elita is playing a vital role in the community by encouraging people to go for testing. They informed us that there are many people in the village who are on ARVs due to their civic education.

Availability of ARVs

The medications are always available at the hospital and hospital staff are very supportive.

African Aids Angels Support.

The family is supported by African Aids Angels in the following way.

  1. Seeds and fertilizer for their farm.
  2. Youth training: One boy dropped out of school in Standard 7 in order to help the family. He is receiving training in market gardening and is provided with seeds and tools to grow vegetables.

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