The HIV+ self-help group PIUMA has just completed a very successful three-day Solidarity March over a 96 kilometer route with counselling and testing clinics in Iniho, Ipelele, and Ujuni. The twenty PIUMA activists were joined by representatives from the nearby AIDS groups MASOUFA, CHAKUNIMU and Tulumwi. As`well, five Canadians from the group Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope joined the walk.
"We are pleased that we got everybody home safe and sound," said Jackson Mbogela, Coordinator of PIUMA. "People here are used to walking long distances and seeing travelers on foot, but nobody has ever seen anything like this!"
The march was started by the District Commissioner of Makete, the Hon. Mr. Leffy Gembe, who walked a distance with the marchers along with local police and health officials. The marchers wore T-shirts bearing the new PIUMA logo and handed out stickers, balloons and tattoos along the way. Each evening there were speeches, choir performances and hip-hop artists carrying the message of HIV awareness and testing to all ages.
More than 50 people were counselled and tested at clinics held in Iniho, Ipelele, and Ujuni along the way.