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contributing to the fight against AIDS
Video Fair (IVF)
Extracted from IVF Newsletter: Issue No 9 (Sept - Dec 2006)
November 01, 2006
was among the first few men in Harare’s Mabvuku high-density suburb
who, as AIDS deaths peaked in the mid 1990’s, quickly realized he
had a role to play in the pandemic which was threatening to wipe
out the nation.
"We had seen
some men who had been deserted by their wives and left in the cold.
We got together the 10 of us men from Mabvuku and said we can’t
leave our fellow colleagues to die while we watch," he said
in an interview.
This was in 1994,
and two years later they got an opportunity to be trained in home
based care facilitated by the Zimbabwe
National Network for people living with HIV & AIDS (ZNNP+).
However, some men felt it was women’s work such that by the year
2000 only 4 members had remained. But now men in the SADC region
are increasingly playing an active role in taking on tasks and responsibilities
within the household that were culturally perceived to be ‘women’s
According to a
UNFPA/UNAIDS and UNIFEM report globally, up top 90 percent of the
care due to illness is provided in the home by women and girls.
However it is
generally believed now in many countries that if men get involved
in home based care they are in a better position to act as role
models for younger men, show other men how to change their behaviour,
protect themselves and their families against HIV and the consequences
of AIDS. This shows how caring for people with AIDS can also help
to prevent HIV from spreading.
It has also been
generally accepted that if men and women work together in a programme
on HIV & AIDS they are better able fight stigma and fear of
discrimination in communities. Men who are HIV positive have a particular
contribution to make in providing hopeful examples of living positively
with HIV to other men and community members.
AIDS is therefore
forcing people to re-examine their roles in the family and at home
as people can change, especially with examples of other respected
men and women acting as role models or opinion leaders.
A rural woman
interviewed in South Africa estimated that it took 24 buckets of
water a day, fetched by hand, to care for a family member who was
dying of AIDS, water to wash the clothes, the sheets and the patient
after regular bouts of diarrhoea.
As part of its
strategy for addressing violence against women and its effects on
HIV & AIDS, the Men as Partners (MaP) programme in South Africa
focuses on the need to transform gender relations within the household.
One MaP coordinator, Stephen Ngobeni, described the difficulties
involved in getting men to take on responsibilities that traditionally
have been viewed as women’s domain.
"When I stand
up and challenge men’s roles, I’m seen to be a rebel. People look
at me and say ‘how can he do things like this?’ When Ngobeni tried
to get villagers to contribute to the cost of hiring trucks to distribute
water, in order to ease the burden on women caregivers, villagers
turned on him. "They said that was what women did traditionally."
In 2003 the remaining
members of Mubape group approached Padare/Enkundlane, a Zimbabwean
men’s pressure group for more training on home based care and the
membership again grew first to 25 and now to 35.
According to Mubape
apart from the basic nursing care and psychosocial support, they
also through their male youth members provide household chores,
including gardening and assisting with homework.
Mubape says the
communities are beginning to accept them and appreciate their work
judging from the open discussions they hold. "We go into beer
halls to do programmes on HIV & AIDS."
At present their
main challenge is how to meet demands with a few resources. For
example the number of people who need food assistance has grown
big; there is lack of adequate protective clothing, the high cost
of medicine and accessing of Anti-Retroviral tablets. There is also
the challenge of lack of resources to meet training demand as more
people both negative and positive are daily seeking to be trained
in home based care. These challenges have been compounded by Murambatsvina,
a programme to clean the streets and urban areas of Zimbabwe.
Mubape said there
is an acute shortage of housing in the areas they offer home based
care. For example at one house in Tafara 20 families are using two
rooms. When they sleep the men sleep in one corner, while women
sleep in another corner and some sleep outside in order to protect
their property. Mubape said their challenge was to meet food demand
at the place because of glaring poverty.
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