Literally Getting People Back on Their Feet
Quote: “Before Africare commended food distribution activities, I had no strength to work, not even to walk.”
Issue: Food and Agriculture
Immaculée Dusabeyezu, 32-year-old mother of two, and her husband were infected in 2001 by the HIV virus. In 2003, she was one of the first to form an association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in her locality of the Nyanza Cell, Cyanika Sector. In the beginning, there were only 12 in their Abisunganye Association, seven of whom died before antiretroviral (ARV) drugs were made available. Today their membership numbers 60, most of whom are on ARV and receiving food assistance from Africare, including Immaculée and her husband.
“Before Africare commenced food distribution activities, I had no strength to work, not even to walk. I had started to develop some of the opportunistic diseases because I didn’t have enough food to eat. The diseases worsened my poverty, and since I could not support myself, my children went hungry too. Now because of the Africare food assistance and ARV, I manage to do certain small work like gardening in the backyard because I have strength. I have also resumed my work of hair braiding, which gives me at least some little money. I would have died if I hadn’t received this food assistance in food to be able to take my drugs.”
Africare’s food assistance program provides nutrition, balance, and substance, all necessary for PLWHAs who need to take antiretroviral drugs. When Immaculée started taking the drugs, she weighed only 32 kilograms (70.4 lbs.). “The ARV increases appetite and without food supplement, we can’t continue to take the drug. We also profit from the counseling on the balanced diet, how to hygienically prepare food and body hygiene from the community volunteers working with Africare. The food that we receive is rich in nutrients and constitutes an important complement to our usual food. This food assistance enables us to regularly take our drugs and gives us strength.” Immaculée now weighs 60 kilos (132 pounds)! Since the group started receiving food and ARV, there has been a major drop in the death of their members.