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News : Malawi
Tearfund welcomes visitors from Malawi – 26 Jun 2014
Mphatso is the Director of LISAP (Livingstonia Synod AIDS Project) and Aaron works as a Project Officer for Tearfund Malawi. Both Mphatso and Aaron work tirelessly to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS in Malawi. Malawi is a country stricken by HIV, 11% of the population are HIV positive, which is roughly 1.1 million people. This is one of the highest in the world. 1.1 million is a huge number and it is difficult to grasp but as Mphatso explained; to her, “it is real people, suffering, struggling, wanting to live”. Mphatso and Aaron work side by side with people living with HIV, young people, children, poor people, whoever is in need of support.
The main thrust of Mphatso and Aaron’s work is the IMPACT project; this programme aims to reduce the transmission of HIV from HIV positive mothers to their unborn babies. Mphatso says that “we have to start with the children in order to have a nation free from HIV” and that is Mphatso’s ultimate aim, for her country to be free from a disease that has already taken so many.
The IMPACT project has been brought about by communities and churches in Malawi and is supported by communities and churches here in Ireland. It is using innovative ways to support people living with HIV as well as preventing further transmission. Read more on this project
LISAP also support vulnerable youths through a vocational skills training school. In Malawi especially in the rural areas, half of the young people have no education. As a result of poverty they cannot afford school fees, Mphatso explained that as young people have no education and no employment they tend to marry early, they then have children. This Mphatso explains, adds to the cycle of poverty as these children will also have no money to go to school and when they are older will find themselves in the same situation and poverty trap as their parents. Many of them will also be left orphaned by AIDS long before that. Many young people are also lured into prostitution in order to earn money to support their families.
Mphatso explained that churches and communities want to help their young people; they want to break this cycle of poverty. As a result LISAP’s vocational skills training school has been replicated in different churches across Malawi so more young people can be offered a way out, a hope for a brighter future, a future free from HIV and the viscous cycle of poverty.
Mphatso and Aaron were just wonderful people to be around, so inspiring and full of energy. Even when we drove them to Limerick and back again in a day and they did not get to their beds until the early hours of the morning, they did not stop giving and sharing their hope and faith to all those around them.
Mphatso and Aaron are an amazing example of people who have dedicated their lives to transforming the lives of others. Mphatso herself has adopted several children who lost their parents to AIDS and she reminds us that we give because Christ gave first and implores all of us;
‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’ Galations 6:9
Visiting project in Malawi – 13 Dec 2013
During his visit to Malawi Markus met Doreen Chilenda (pictured right) who has been taught about conservation farming, which is locally known as “farming God’s way”. Doreen was sceptical at first, but at the end of the workshop she thought that she should give it a trial. Now she calculates the spaces before planting, uses animal manure and covers the field.
Conservation farming is about keeping the water and nutrients in the soil. She noticed that she needs 60% less fertilizer and less weed is growing on her field. Being HIV positive Doreen said she appreciates that this means less work and thus better health. She hopes for a good harvest and that in three years time she will need no fertilizer at all.
To us Doreen is a wonderful example of a great strong woman, who once given a chance improved her life by making the right choices.
Mother buddies in Malawi – 3 May 2012
In Malawi, one in five children born to a HIV-positive mother is infected – a death sentence at birth. However, child and maternal mortality can be reduced dramatically with a number of low-cost interventions. Tearfund Ireland has received three year’s funding from Irish Aid, a government department, to mobilise churches and communities in rural Malawi to stop AIDS but still needs donations to enable this life-saving work to succeed. Give today
‘Slim disease’ is the local name given to AIDS which has ravaged the country since the 1980s. More than 10% of the population are infected with HIV and tragically are passing it on to the next generation. Rev. Harold, a church leader in Chitera was exhausted from attending the funerals of AIDS victims with often as many as ten per month. ‘People were in a constant state of grief.’ he says, ‘It was particularly tragic when a young infant wasted away and died’.
Rev. Harold then attended a training run by the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), Tearfund’s partner. He realised that AIDS was the equivalent of leprosy in Biblical times. ‘Sufferers were isolated from family and community. Even us, their church persecuted for their condition,’ he explains. One woman, whose family, on learning of her condition, set fire to her home to drive her out. ‘It’s not only the disease that kills,’ Rev Harold continues, ‘but the loneliness.’
As a result of his training Chitera community and the local church is changing dramatically. Following the example of Jesus with the lepers the church members have begun to welcome people living with HIV and are providing practical care and support for them. On a recent visit to Malawi I attended a church service and was present as the collection was gathered from the congregation. This was like nothing you would see in Ireland – someone offered a bar of soap, another a pair of socks, someone else a single egg. It was moving to witness people with next to nothing giving whatever they could for those suffering from AIDS.
Inspiring as the image is, however, it touches on something much deeper and confirms the incredible potential of the church to bring healing and hope.
A mother’s hope
The church conducted a voluntary HIV testing and counselling clinic as part of their Sunday service. 176 people came to be tested. One of them was Evelyn who was pregnant with her first child. ‘I was very afraid when I found out’ she says softly ‘I thought there was no hope for me and my child, in Malawi this is a death sentence.’ However a ‘mother buddy’ (a church volunteer) was able to take her to the health clinic on a bicycle ambulance so that she could be provided with anti-retroviral medicines. ‘I don’t think I could have gotten there without her’ says Evelyn as she reflects on the hour’s walk to the nearest clinic.
Throughout Evelyn‘s pregnancy the mother buddy provided continuous support and prayer. The anti-retroviral medicines can have some horrible side-effects including nausea and vomiting and without encouragement pregnant women often stop taking them. But Evelyn persevered and gave birth to a baby boy Ztembele, which means ‘thanks’.
Recently Ztembele was old enough to be tested for HIV and to the delight of his mother Evelyn he was negative. ‘Without the medicines, my mother buddy and my church I would be telling a different story today’ says Evelyn. She has decided that she wants to be trained as a mother buddy so she can share her experiences and help mothers in her situation.
Today, in Chitera there has been only one burial for an AIDS victim in the last six months. Behind this dramatic turnaround is the loving care and dedication of a network of church volunteers, led by Rev Harold and inspired by Jesus.
A future free from HIV
Such success has not gone unnoticed. Tearfund Ireland has secured three years funding from the Irish Government towards reducing the incidence of HIV transmission from mother to child, a significant initiative in a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Over the next three years we plan to test 6,500 mothers and will be providing ‘mother buddy’ support to the HIV-positive mothers. As a result hundreds of children will be born with a chance at life. Evelyn is looking forward to her opportunity to give something back to her people – her way of giving thanks.
The Malawi HIV project is only partially funded by the Irish government and will require your support to ensure its success.
- €18 will enables us to provide emergency transport for a pregnant woman
- €35 enables us to provide HIV testing at a church
- €150 will enable us to support a HIV positive pregnant mother and prevent her child being born with HIV
Malawi HIV Fund – 30 Jan 2012
In Malawi, one in five children born to a HIV-positive mother is infected – a death sentence at birth. However, child and maternal mortality can be reduced dramatically with a number of low-cost interventions.
Tearfund and its local partners are mobilising church and communities in rural Malawi to stop AIDS together.Irish Aid, a department within the Irish government, has awarded Tearfund Ireland a grant in recognition of our expertise and accountability in this area. This covers 72 per cent of the cost of the HIV project in Malawi but the remaining 28 per cent (€30,000) is still needed to enable this vital work to go ahead.
One child is born with HIV every minute. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Could you help save a child’s life? Click here to give today
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