HIV and AIDS
Working through communities to help awareness and find solutions
HIV and AIDS is a desperate problem affecting as many as one in five adults in Zambia. Unfortunately, it is also contributing to the most profound reversal of rural development for 40 years. Many sick townsfolk return to their home villages to be cared for by relatives – but all too often in these rural parts, there are few health facilities and little money for drugs. And when adults succumb, their orphaned children are left in the care of overstretched and poor villagers.
BZT is very aware of the lack of understanding about HIV, and of the poor facilities for some 40,000 people in the areas in which the charity works. That is why it has, funded for some time, a HIV/AIDS coordinator to provide health education, support and advice to local communities.
BZT has over the last few years set up a network of volunteers who not only promote awareness, but also offer much-needed support and training to the carers who have to look after dying relatives – not least the many older people who are struggling to care for their orphaned grandchildren.
Peer educators play a key role in this work, and they are able to go about their duties on bicycles also provided by ZRDF.
ZRDF and BZT have also supported pre and post HIV/AIDS counsellors, who provide a vital link with the mobile testing service.
Without the support of ZRDF and BZT, there would be no provision for addressing HIV/AIDS in these areas.
Lucy is married with four children. She is trained in home economics and for some time she worked in a home craft centre. She is a well-respected member of her community.
Thanks to BZT and ZRDF, Lucy is now a fully trained peer educator who teaches women of her own age about HIV and AIDS. Not only that, but as a trained counsellor, she advises people before they are tested – and should they be positive, she gives them information about the steps towards treatment.
Lucy also visits people who are ill with AIDS in their homes. She is able to advise the family about how to care for their sick relative, and she discusses vital points such as cleanliness and medication.
Before BZT launched its training and education programme with ZRDF, there was no HIV and AIDS work in Kalwa and nearby Fiwila, where Lucy lives. Now, however, we are operating a volunteer testing service, and a mobile clinic carrying vital anti-retroviral drugs travels once a fortnight to Kalwa.
Lucy enjoys all her work. She finds it very rewarding, not least the counselling aspect of her duties.