Intervention of Thematic Segment: The Role of Communities in Ending AIDS Panel 1
To be delivered by Angeline Chiwetani, NGO Africa
The community cadres who are also better known as community based volunteers, behaviour change facilitators, nurse aids, community care givers, home based care givers, the list is endless…are the foot soldiers that have work hard in promoting demand generation to services. They offer their services for a very minimal fee that is next to nothing, and it’s because they know how it feels to be in a situation where other people view you from a different perspective. Passion drives them, they volunteer through organisations that are also volunteering services but operating on a shoe-string budget or none (toothpaste tube has since dried up ages ago).
The NGO delegation takes this opportunity to convey the sincere gratitude to all the community interventions that are happening, which are mainly passion-driven. We have been labelled negatively before, but today we have become a legitimate community that most of you here would want to be associated with. I founded Widows Fountain of Life — experience was my best teacher. After l lost my husband on 23rd June 2000 due to AIDS, l went through a lot. I was negatively labelled, discriminated against to the extent of being demoted from a management position at my workplace. Through community based dialogues that helped us in identifying, sensitising and mobilizing communities at all levels, through shared learning, our communities are being transformed.
Be reminded that we have the epidemic still with us. Let us turn the tables and not continue to do business as usual. Let me recall again and remind the house that the toothpaste tube has dried up. Should we wait until the dentists knock at our doorstep to do dental care exercise? Networks of people living with HIV, and key populations are and should be at the centre of this. It’s high time that we discontinue unpaid care work among the very disadvantaged groups or organisations and take care of them. Therefore we are advocating for financial support to go to these groups and have their programmes supported.
Substantial amount of money to support community based organisations, networks of people living with HIV and key populations, together with passion, will turn the tide to end the AIDS epidemic.