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HIV/AIDS and Nutrition Newsletter Mar 2005
C-SAFE Tackles Stigma around HIV and AIDS
staff from CRS, World Vision, CARE and ADRA spent a week in Johannesburg
designing and planning 1-day staff training sessions for delivery
in Zambia and Zimbabwe. These training sessions are intended to
provide their own colleagues with a better understanding of the
ways in which stigma influences services and programs in their own
workplaces. The process was spearheaded by a 3 ˝ day conference
led by David Patient and Neil Orr, using a process called Open Spaces
that stigma reduction is personal and individual with no single
universal approach, participants identified more than twenty topics
related to HIV/AIDS and stigma. Among them were perceptions and
experiences of stigma by youth and women, self-stigmatization, the
influence of religious leaders and of the media, practical strategies
to overcome stigma in various settings and the monitoring and evaluation
A series of
one-day long C-SAFE workshops began March 7 in Zimbabwe and March
15 in Zambia as a follow-up to the Johanesburg training. Early feedback
from the workshops has been excellent, with one participant noting
that "This workshop is a great success - we are taking the mask
Assets Programs Assist People Living with HIV and AIDS
Food for Assets (FFA) program being run by CARE Zimbabwe has transformed
the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHA) in Gutu, Zimbabwe.
Following the initial community sensitization and a series of meetings,
communities have begun to propose projects that meet the needs of
their most vulnerable. "The projects range from communal fields
and backyard gardens to digging of shallow wells and addressing
specific individual needs such as hut construction. The needs vary
from community to community," said Lynah Matsikiti, Acting Team
Leader. Once the project is approved, the workers receive a food
basket consisting of cereals, cooking oil and beans in exchange
for their labor.
Lack of HIV
testing (as a result of fear, lack of voluntary counseling test
facilities or both) has posed a challenge in the targeting of would-be
beneficiaries. "We found out most people do not know their status
until their situation develops into full-blown AIDS," said Matsikiti.
She said that initially, individuals were reluctant to come out
in the open and reveal their HIV status for fear of being stigmatized.
However, working closely with AIDS Support Organizations and Clinics
has really helped CARE staff to identify people living with HIV
and AIDS and offer the appropriate support.
self-identification has increased dramatically since the introduction
of the projects, as communities realize that there are benefits
to be drawn by coming out in the open. "We have witnessed a high
level of acceptance, as every household has been affected by the
pandemic," said Tendai Mahove, Acting Field Supervisor.
is living with HIV and through the FFA initiative, she has set up
a vegetable garden. Her garden has a variety of vegetables that
include rape, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes and carrots.
vegetables for consumption, Esther has been able to sell the surplus
to raise money for books and pens for her two children who are in
primary school. During our visit to the project site, Esther's brother,
Kwashirai Chimwanda, was watering some of the produce. "As a family
we embrace the situation our sister is in and we are so grateful
to CARE for coming up with a program that has made life easier for
us," said Kwashirai.
The Sezani AIDS
Support Group in Gwanda is another example where FFA can draw people
together, not only to receive assistance but to support each other.
When asked whether
people feared being labeled when they came forward to receive support,
member Florence Dube responded, "As for being labeled, we would
rather come out in the open and get professional assistance than
die in ignorance. Since the introduction of these projects people
have been encouraged to get tested because they realize there are
benefits to be drawn from declaring one's status. Generally people
are accepting that AIDS is like any other disease. Tell me, is there
anything new about this disease? At the end of it all, everyone
is dying -- we are all affected."
Staff have been
using a new C-SAFE Tool: a Checklist that helps them to analyze
new projects with HIV and AIDS in mind (see note below). This more
structured approach has been welcomed by staff, as the CARE Gweru
HIV/AIDS Focal Point Person, Abel Wande, noted: "Working together
on FFA planning and implementation creates opportunities for the
people most affected by HIV to do something proactive, and to develop
social network groups that will continue to support each other in
future. Thus we are creating not only a physical asset but social
capital as well."
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