Monday, December 01, 2014

World AIDS Day in Swaziland

Today Swaziland celebrated World AIDS Day. There were festivities in all four regions with the national commemoration here in Lubombo. There were speeches. I'm sure a lot of very important people had a lot of very important things to say. With the highest official HIV prevalence in the world, there was much to commemorate.

With the promise of food to follow, a large number came out in Siteki to patiently listen to the important speeches. Our staff was there as well: to offer HIV services to anyone who might be interested.

Back in the impoverished and isolated communities Kudvumisa Foundation usually works in, life went on as usual. For most people it was a day like any other; trying to scratch together enough for today's meal, sometimes in whatever way is necessary.  Important speeches don't mean much here.

Kudvumisa means to praise in siSwati.  For the several hundred men, women, and children who rely on Kudvumisa Foundation's services and transport, there is reason to praise.  Hope takes the form of a mobile clinic and a 17-seater van.  Without these community based services, most of these people would have few to no options for accessing the life saving antiretrovirals (ARV's) that keep the virus in their body at bay.

Nonhlanhla today
Nonhlanhla in the throes of TB

Nonhlanhla and her husband are both HIV positive.  They live in one of the small informal/cane cutter settlements in Vuvulane.  Both rely on Kudvumisa for their ARV's.  Several years ago, she battled TB on top of HIV.  She lost so much weight and was a shadow of her old self.  Today she has won her battle against TB and is a vocal spokesman for people in her community to test and start treatment for HIV as soon as possible.

Hers is a speech worth hearing!
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