mercredi, mai 11, 2011

HIV/AIDS: Uniting to better defend their rights

Often stigmatized, even in rural areas, women infected and affected by HIV/Aids in the department of Bouenza have formed an organization to address their problems

“We have created this organization so that we can work together in the fight against discrimination, stigmatization and claiming our rights,” says Célestine, president of the Women’s Development Organization of Bouenza (AFDB). It is thanks to the generous support of the organization AZUR Development that this young community-based organization (CBO) was created in February 2011 in Nkayi. “It is AZUR Development that has helped us to create this organization. We had no idea that we could come together like this, but we finally got together and decided to conduct our own activities,” according to Yvette, the general secretary of AFDB.

Their courses of action

This organization intends to work in the fields of the fight against HIV/Aids, girls’ education in rural areas, and reproductive health. In the coming months, they would like to investigate the schooling of girls and the situation of young mothers in the districts of Nkayi in order to understand their problems and work to resolve them.

Moreover, being a young organization, they would like to undertake income-generating activities to support themselves financially. Aware of the fertility of the arable land in Bouenza, for the moment, they are determined to engage in agriculture (cultivating cassava called “le manioc”, groundnut, and maize). “We’re motivated to do field work for the simple reason that this is what we usually do in our own households. And next, we will think about manufacturing soap,” confides the president of the AFDB.

Through its activities, they’re also thinking of inserting their members into society by becoming independent. According to one of their shadowed members, “we want women who are infected or affected by HIV/Aids to have economic independence because they are disadvantaged, discriminated against and stigmatized in society.” She continues, “the treatment that we take is strong, therefore it is important for us to eat well. There are other patients whose physical condition does not improve because they have nothing to eat and no income-generating activity.”

Making a difference

Some organizations are created, but often they cannot play their leadership role. Célestine participated in a regional workshop on leadership, human rights, and HIV/Aids from April 18th to 21st 2011 in Brazzaville organized by AZUR Development and its partner. She explains, “I came here to Brazzaville to undergo leadership training to learn how to direct an organization. On my return, I will pass this knowledge onto others so that they can learn how to run an organization at a base level. It’s not only the President who has to work, but it’s a team effort, where each member must get their hands dirty.”

Célestine is also determined to carry AFDB even farther and confides, “AFDB must prepare now for small projects at the local level to mobilize resources.”

Jean Thibaut Ngoyi
Translated from English to French by Lauren Messina

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