Associations of PLHIV and disabled people turn into agents of change
Partners: Handicap International Mozambique
Associations working on HIV and disability – like Monaso and Rensida - have set in motion a movement of responses throughout Mozambique. “There has been an increase in the quality of care and support since we started with the AIDS Competence Process. But, it’s been more than AIDS; the tools have been applicable to deal with interpersonal conflicts in the community, and decreasing stigma and discrimination,” explains Olga, a team-member from Monaso. Handicap International has been the entry-point for AIDS Competence in Mozambique.
“The AIDS Competence Process has multiplied very rapidly in the three provinces. Associations have shown great enthusiasm and skill to implement the approach,” explained Ricardo Walters, Constellation coach.
For instance, Asumo, Mozambique National Association of Deaf, has been actively stimulating communities they work with. “We, in Asumo (Mozambique National Association of Deaf), organize SALT visits twice a week, in 2 groups, with 4 people in each team. There is an increase in local community debate. Association members also have more empathy for the community – when they find sick people in their homes, they respond to them with care, and don’t abandon them. But it is a challenge to facilitate regular conversations with communities, when the facilitators are deaf and mute.” Explained a member of ASUMO Manica.
Olga, from MONASO (Mozambique National AIDS Service Organisation), explained that the AIDS Competence Process changed their way of working. “Our people [in the local associations] have no funds. But this methodology is so low-cost, everyone can do it. It’s got them, and us, back to the field. There has been an increase in the quality of care and support since we started with ACP. But, it’s been more than AIDS! The tools have been applicable to deal with interpersonal conflicts in the community, and decreasing stigma and discrimination. It’s as if we’ve been re-taught how to visit: not only focussing on those who are most vulnerable, but finding a way to release those with strength to contribute to the care of those vulnerable people.”
Handicap International has organized a self-assessment with its staff. “We assumed Handicap International had a good understanding of HIV inside our organization, but we’ve discovered we’re at a much lower level, in terms of staff, HIV policy and work,” explained Rui Maquene, Project Manager.
In March 2010, associations of disabled people and AIDS organisations across 3 provinces in Mozambique met in Maputo for a Knowledge Fair. They shared their experience with local responses. Participants also took stock of progress in the country. The AIDS Competence Process has been transferred to 269 facilitators, 113 organisations and 176 communities.
The team developed an action plan for the 3 years to come, to ensure the spread of the AIDS Competence Process to all levels of society. “So, we know the methodology is being quickly transferred to members in the provinces. It is an important process for the national response in Mozambique because people become more than beneficiaries – they become actors. It would be good to have that programme continue in the future, and to have the work expanded at national level,” explained the Deputy Exec. Secretary of RENSIDA (Network of people living with HIV and AIDS).