‘Unsung heroes’ of HIV/AIDS

Health Watch, Normal


VOLUNTEERS who have given their time and commitment in caring for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and other chronic diseases were hailed as “unsung heroesî during the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day seminar on Monday.
The seminar, organised by the Family Health International (FHI), brought together volunteers from 10 sites in NCD who received much praise for carrying out community home-based care (CHBC) in their communities.
The praises were sung by dignitaries including Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu, NCD Governor Powes Parkop and FHI country director Nayer Kaviani.
The CHBC, or “Lukautim Hauslain project”, is an AusAID – funded project through FHI and is coordinated by Sirus Naraqi Foundation, an NGO that involves community volunteers including PLWHA.
During a panel discussion, some of the volunteers told the seminar how they too were stigmatised and discriminated all because they provided HBC to PLWHA. 
They said it was very challenging, especially in places like settlements, where majority of the people were illiterate, lived in poverty and lacked basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS.
Despite facing all the negativities within their communities, the volunteers have continued to provide CHBC.
One volunteer from the Five-Mile area, Margaret Mason, told The National that though it was a risky job, she did it because she had a heart for such work.
Ms Mason has gone through different training on various aspects about HIV/AIDS and decided to do CHBC when asked. 
She also pointed out some issues PLWHA faced as she found out when she first started working.
She said most of the PLWHA that she visited to help were stigmatised and discriminated and were thrown out of their homes by their own families.