The intervention of ADRA Rwanda in many communities in the country is beginning to pay off through their projects that have brought money to the pockets of the rural folk.
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), a Seventh Day Adventist Church’s private voluntary agency founded in 1956 aims to develop human capacity, increase self-reliance, and empowering communities to meet crisis and chronic distress regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliations.
Through its income generating activities, its impact is loud on the ground seen through many people’s lives.
Living positively with HIV
ADRA’s Mugonero project has touched many hearts, helping people infected with
HIV/Aids to live positively with the Aids virus. One of the beneficiaries of the MDRHI project, Faustin Nduwamungu, 49, married and a father to seven children all grown ups is full of praise for the project.
“I tested HIV positive in 2003 after a long illness. When I went to the hospital, I was advised to take a series of blood tests and it was then confirmed I was HIV positive.
However, my CD-4 Cell count is still okay so I have not yet gone for the Anti-Retroviral Therapy,” Nduwamungu narrates his story.
Nduwamungu suspects that he could have contracted the virus while living as a refugee in the Democratic Republic of Congo. ‘I returned to Rwanda in August 2002 to join my wife whom I had left since 1994 war.
My wife is HIV positive too but she contracted it from a different person.
The two are in different associations of people living with HIV/Aids. The couple has been married since 1974.
Nduwamungu is happy with the numerous benefits the two get from these associations citing mainly a chance to education.
“Education is the most important benefit which members derive from these associations. Accessing Anti-Retroviral (ARVs) therapy is another benefit,” he explains.
He acknowledges the importance of their living as a positive couple saying that it provides them with a positive attitude towards life and helps them to encourage and support each other.
Their sero status has compelled them to cultivate different foodstuffs like vegetables that assist in their much needed healthy feeding.
Dative Bazubagira 35, her five year old daughter Honorine Iranzi together with her 75 year old mother Marie Nyirababoyi are all members of the Ngobokankomere Association of People Living with HIV since August 2006.
“I used to stigmatize those who were HIV positive, I did not know that I was also HIV infected, until I was urged to go for a test,” says Bazubagira.
Upon testing, Bazubagira discovered that she was HIV positive with her CD-4 count seriously dropping and was immediately put on ARV therapy.
She later decided to take two of her children for the same blood test and her five year old daughter Honorine Iranzi tested positive while the other seven year daughter tested negative. She joined the Association in August 2006.
Unfortunately, even her 75 year old mother tested HIV positive and Bazubagira was confused on how to reveal the status to the old woman which task she left to a professional nurse whom she says was her mother’s trusted friend.
Asked about the project’s contributing factors to the successes registered, the Mugonero District Reproductive Health Initiative Project Manager, Dr. Peter Isaboke mentioned the project’s good rapport with the main project ‘s stakeholders such as the Government, Community and its leadership and, the beneficiaries themselves as the largest contributors.
“Regular communication and support from ADRA-Rwanda Country office, ADRA-Denmark, Government of Denmark through DANIDA, Rwanda Union Mission of Seventh-Day Adventist Church and maximum information sharing with other development partners within and without the country and, the general population are the other key items which have led us to attain such measurable result,” says Isaboke.
The agency has been operating in Rwanda since 1978 where it is currently running a series of projects in collaboration with different agencies in different parts of the country with a target to benefit over 360,000 Rwandans.
Among these projects is the Mugonero District Reproductive Health Initiative (MDRHI), a five year project covering Gishyita, Mubuga, Tumba and Rwankuba sectors of Karongi District and Mahembe, Gihombo and Kirimbi sectors of Nyamasheke District all in the Western Province.
With a permanent staff of nine and another 20 outreach change agents, the Mugonero project’s main objective is to empower the youth and other vulnerable groups to improve their sexual reproductive health status including prevention and control of HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted infections.
The project also seeks to assist the youth and the other vulnerable groups to adhere to safe sexual practices and to curb the incidences of sexual violence.
The project also seeks to undertake a social change for women to make decision regarding their reproductive health which include contraceptive methods that are not harmful to their health.
Through a planned community based education and mobilization strategy comprising key value drivers such as biblical teachings on sex, family planning, antenatal Care, prevention of mother to child HIV/Aids transmission plus HIV/Aids voluntary counselling and testing.
The strategy also works towards women empowerment, general hygiene, human rights, home based care, nutrition and counselling for those infected with HIV, leadership and management to the initiation of income generating activities among other programmes.
Through the support of ADRA-Mugonero District Reproductive Health Initiative Project, over 300 people living with HIV/Aids in the Western province have opened savings accounts, while 221 other beneficiaries have already received their respective ‘soft loans’ from the project totalling to over Frw8.6 million.