HIV/AIDS has affected most communities in Rwanda like in many parts of the developing world. It is in this context therefore, that Jijuka association for people living with the virus and those affected by the AIDS pandemic in Rwamagana was set up to help people live positively.
“They want to be helped within the formal groupings with some levels of support. Various forms of support of course would improve on their health. They would get medicines and help other victims who are needy,” Chantal Kagoyire, the President of Jijuka Association in Rwanda said.
The 34- year old mother of three, after undertaking a counsellor’s trainees’ course dedicated her self to this noble cause of helping people living with HIV/AIDS to live a meaningful life.
The government and other donor agents channel their aid to victims of HIV/AIDS through such groups.
In the association members who are infected with the virus receive various forms of support including counselling.
“People infected with HIV virus are advised against smoking and drinking alcohol because it decreases their immunity levels.
They should take the prescribed doses of drugs as directed by the doctors,” Kagoyire remarked, pointing out that poverty still remains a big challenge to people living with the virus.
“Due to poverty, they don’t get enough quality foodstuff; this tends to decrease their life span. The government and donors should help the poor HIV positive individuals to have access to the right type of nutrition,” she added.
There are a number of other NGOs that have come up to help HIV positive individuals in the district. The African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE) is one such an organization.
AEE is a self help group of 90 ‘care givers’ and 70 community health workers operating in Mwurire, Kigabiro and Muhazi sectors of Rwamagana.
It helps the victims to access support in form of food to improve on their feeding needs.The NGO also gives life skills to help them live a positive life.
In addition those targeted for support are constantly reminded on the importance of taking the antiretroviral drugs, and abstaining from sex.
Other organisations that have supported the HIV/AIDS are CHAMPU and TIAFUND.
These organisations have helped some orphaned children to get school fees and other scholastic materials.
“Under CHAMPU we have cooperative societies for weaving baskets and another that is involved in pepper production,” Pastor Ezekiel Rukema, the coordinator of AEE Rwamagana said.
TIAFUND also has helped in empowering churches to respond to challenges emanating from the scourge in Rwamagana and Kayonza.
This includes helping youth to acquire vocational training.
Promoting HIV/AIDS testing
Apart from helping people living with the virus, the association also sensitises people to take HIV tests.
Juliet Uwamahoro, one of those who have tested negative says she has since resolved to remain faithful to one partner in order to avoid contracting the virus. “I also advise those who can’t abstain to use condoms,” she said.
Generally, due to numerous campaigns, there is a positive behavioural change towards people living with HIV/AIDS.
There is no more stigmatisation and HIV positive individuals are seen as equal partners in daily life.
HIV Positive individuals have also learnt how to live positively with the virus by changing their lifestyles- those who were drinking alcohol or smoking say they have since stopped.