On Saturday, June 21st, Highlands Hope affiliate NGO, Chakunimu, held an information session in the village of Mlevele, just outside of Njombe. The session was used to spread awareness of HIV and the importance of testing.
Using several teaching methods, the session focused on expelling local myths about the virus. An address to the entire crowd of 450 presented the information in a straightforward manner, while small group discussions allowed the villagers to ask more personal questions. Songs repeated information given with a catchy tune, which eventually had many of the villagers reciting the lyrics. Lastly, a role playing exercise had the crowd rolling in laughter as it compared traditional treatment methods with modern medicine.
Chakunimu operates within six villages in the surrounding area, and has made its presence known. Aside from weekly information sessions rotating through its constituent villages on topics ranging from HIV awareness to environmental concerns, the NGO has been an important leader in community building projects.
In Nyumbanitu, one of the villages within which the NGO operates, a new health center is nearing completion. The large red testing center and planned maternity center, built by the villagers with minimal government help, will be the first center for Highlands Hope`s mobile testing program. The program will bring Highlands Hope nurses to the various villages where they operate in order to reach those who cannot make the walk into Njombe.
After the information session in Mlevele, organizers got together to evaluate Chakunimu`s work. The only criticism to surface was that only three village chairmen attended, and in the future they should strive to have all six present. However, the most resounding comment was that of the Wald Executive Officer who praised Chakunimu`s work and suggested that it expand to more villages.
The solidarity visit by Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope to Makete District has been made possible by the support of the senior economics class of Lindsay Place High School among others.