Rev. Melania Mrema Kyando, Director of the HIV Department in the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in Tanzania
The virus that causes Aids has been a major global problem, and it is still claiming many lives. Even today, many of the young people who should be the source of strength for Sub-Saharan nations are dying of HIV and Aids. Most of them are aged between 15 and 49, and girls are particularly hard hit.
WHAT THE CHURCH DOES
To help in this crisis, the Moravian church in Tanzania’s Southern Province has been involved in education and social activation by campaigning about HIV/Aids. For over six years, campaigns have been launched at marketplaces throughout the region, church vocational training centres and secondary schools; this year, we also mounted a campaign at the theological college. The church joins with the government in fighting HIV and AIDS in society.
The department uses awareness-raising groups (such as church youth choirs and theatre groups) who use songs and drama to carry the message to the people. When people listen to songs and see theatre presentations, they are encouraged to go for an HIV test − and the mobile clinic is there on the spot.
The department’s other activities include advising and assisting HIV-positive children living with relatives or other carers. Support may take the form of educational materials, nutritious flour or small sums of money to ensure they can attend their ARV clinic.
When our HIV work started, there was only one self-help group (Lusubilo group); four years later, there are now four groups in different regions that receive support from the department. The department assists them through small projects – examples include keeping pigs and chickens, bee-keeping, providing nutritious flour and assistance with starting a Village Community Bank (VICOBA). Membership of the self-help groups is not limited to members of the Moravian church; participants come from all levels of society.
In order to spread information and raise awareness, the department organized a meeting of HIV-positive group leaders. The aim was to strengthen and encourage them to talk openly and help with conducting the campaign in marketplaces. Experience shows that hearing someone who is HIV positive will make people more interested in going for an HIV test; after getting their results, if they are HIV-positive, they will then be more open about their status in society.
The department plans to organize a meeting of carers who live with HIV-positive children. The aim: to identify the challenges that confront them while they take care of the children. There is also a need for children to meet and play together, and discuss issues related to their status with other children in the same position. We believe that this discussion and counselling work will help children to understand their situation and avoid spreading HIV to others.
From October onwards, the department will launch a specific youth training program. This will train peer educators who can help as counsellors in schools, training centres and youth groups. By assisting young people now, we believe we can achieve our goal of an AIDS-free generation in the future.
We thank Mission 21 and other Partners for their love and support.
TANZANIA WITHOUT AIDS – TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN