What if an HIV diagnosis didn’t have to be a death sentence? What if an HIV positive person could go to work, feel strong, and maintain a healthy and happy life? This is not some far off dream, this is a new reality taking shape across communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
As our Visionledd team approached a small group in Mngwangwe, Malawi, you would have never known that this was a group of people living with AIDS. These were not emancipated men and women too sick to move or sit up, this was a group of men and women learning not just to survive, but to thrive in the wake of a terrible diagnosis. Through education, nutrition, and access to antiretrovirals (ARVs) and selenium supplements, these men and women have come to one awesome conclusion: God is good, and their lives matter.
BODIES AND SPIRITS TRANSFORMED
When HIV and AIDS patients have access to these resources, amazing transformations of the body and spirit can happen. Before Fatimata Kgarboshe started using selenium she was missing six to eight days of work a month due to overwhelming illness. Now, she rejoices daily! “Oh oh oh! My God is so good. This medication has a miraculous touch, I am now healthy, well, and never get sick like I used to. Since taking selenium I have only missed work to go to hospital for my checkup.” Selenium, a trace mineral essential for good health, is having an incredible impact on improving appetite, weight gain, and strength for hundreds of patients in Visionledd’s sponsored communities.
VISIONLEDD IS THERE
Visionledd supports many support groups just like the one in Mngwangwe. Support group leaders empower men and women by providing education, biblically-based counselling, transportation to get ARVs, and access to selenium supplements. These leaders often have AIDS themselves but feel called to demonstrate love and care for their neighbours after learning how to live with the disease.
Menia Chikanda is one of these leaders. Before Visionledd started working in Mngwangwa, Menia used to walk 15km to be a part of a support group in Kaggwa. She told people back in Mngwangwa about the importance of getting tested and even went so far as to carry patients 25 km on her back to the hospital. Many times she was found walking on the road with a weak and sick patient strapped to her back. She said, “I was doing it to prevent other people from dying. I almost died and no one should die because they can’t make it to hospital.” The day finally came when a support group for the people of her community was formed in Mgwangwa with Menia as the joyous chairperson. Now, this group is made up of over 249 people learning to live and support one another through AIDS.
On World AIDS Day, the support group members of Mngwange will be joined by nearly 1,000 more from the neighbouring communities of Mtandile and Chikudzilire. In a mass celebration of recovery and the hope that the Word of God brings, these Africans are proving that though HIV and AIDS isn’t going away, neither is Jesus.