On a busy market day in a small village not far from Mzuzu, the sound of a motorbike can be heard growling through the main street. On its back are two young men, one with a megaphone, calling to villagers and passersby and telling them about the HIV Testing and Counselling Clinic that’s in town for the day.
This HIV Testing and Counselling Clinic was organised by Temwa through our Health programme and is part of a series of activities that took place at the end of October in Bigha and the neighbouring villages.
Getting people tested
Fishani, our Project Officer for Health worked with HIV Counsellors to organise these mobile clinics as this is an area where an estimated 16% of the population are HIV positive and can live many hours walk from their local health centre. So taking the clinics to the communities makes it accessible for them to get tested for a disease that has devastating and lasting impacts on nearly everyone in the area one way or another.
In Bigha alone, 92 people were tested. And over 4 days and 8 clinics this reached a total of 549 people. Of these just three tested positive so we can now work with the HIV Counsellors to get them on medication and give them the support they need to deal with this information both practically and emotionally. We’ll be following up with these people quarterly to find out how they are doing.
Entertaining the crowds
Just as important as the actual testing is awareness-raising of HIV and teaching communities how to prevent, diagnose and treat it. That’s where the other parts of our Health programme come in to play.
Everyone likes to be entertained and in Temwa we’re lucky to have some of the finest entertainers Nkhata Bay North has to offer – our Peer Educators.
Peer Educators are young people from the community who have signed up as volunteers to promote understanding of HIV/AIDS issues. And here in Bigha they performed a play about the importance of remaining faithful in a relationship and the possible repercussions of not doing so in relation to HIV. Using comical costumes, interactive theatre and chasing each other through the paths and houses of Bigha, the Peer Educators gripped the audience and got them thinking about these important issues.
Watch a clip of the action here where the philandering husband catches his wife’s lover.
After dark the activities continued with a pedal-powered, mobile video show, projected onto the outside wall of a village shop. It played a documentary about people from the district who are HIV positive and how they look after themselves, live positively and work with their community to reduce stigmatisation. Well over 300 school children and community members stayed to watch the show.
Neither of these activities were somewhere you could sit back and relax – they required input, interaction and debate. Children and adults alike got involved and shared their thoughts and knowledge on HIV transmission, prevention, how to care for HIV positive people and stigmatisation.
And it doesn’t stop once everything has been packed up for the day. The events leave a lasting impression and those who attended go back to their friends and family and discuss and debate what they’ve seen. Which is exactly the point.
If you’d like to support the work Temwa does in combating HIV and its impacts, please donate using the button at the top of this page or why not see what fundraising events we have coming up.