Over half of Malawi’s 15,263,000 population is under 18 years old, and 30% of those are under 5 years.
These statistics hint at the enormity of the socio-economic challenges that Malawi faces - a huge proportion of dependant children, with AIDS impacting all sectors of the workforce and community life.
There are a million orphans under 17 yrs, and 65% of those were orphaned by AIDS. (Unicef:2009)
The face of AIDS in the rural areas - a young mum, with her baby son, both HIV+. He was frail and sickly when we first met, but when included on the milk programme, he blossomed and put on weight.
Sadly, because of his limited immunity he eventually succumbed to malaria.
A worrying time - waiting for VCT results - sadly, positive
Many people are either providing care for someone with HIV or are suffering themselves, leaving them unable to work. This particularly affects rural farming communities, - as crops fail due to extreme weather, and fields are neglected though frailty, so hunger is widespread.
Another aspect of the problem is access to ARV’s
(Anti-retroviral drugs, which delay the onset of AIDS in people HIV+).
It can be 4 hours walk to receive treatment each month, then 4 hours back again, without lunch, and weakened by disease and hunger.
Women are routinely tested for HIV when pregnant, and VCT(voluntary counselling/testing) services are being rolled out across Malawi, but in most areas the stigma remains. Women sometimes neglect their ante-natal care to avoid testing, putting themselves and their babies, at risk.
We help fund transport for the most vulnerable, host a weekly AIDS support group in our Training Hall, are developing projects (i.e. rabbits) which need minimum care, and as part of our target group (along with orphans, the elderly, & disabled) their families also benefit from our milk & maize programmes.