THIS World AIDS Day, as UNAIDS asks that we ‘Let Communities Lead’, UK charity acet UK celebrates the communities that are at the centre of their HIV preventative and care work in areas of the world that have a high HIV prevalence.
acet UK CEO Catherine said:
“At acet UK, we believe that communities should not simply be seen as the recipients of interventions. They should, and do, play a pivotal role in reducing HIV transmission and are active agents of change.”
One example is in South Africa, where acet UK’s partner Crossroads is working in the highest HIV prevalence province, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Crossroads’ HIV education work in schools led to a partnership with the children’s caregivers – providing community-led HIV testing, education, and supported access to medication.
As part of this work, in a community in Mahika where houses had been destroyed by devastating floods in April 2022, Crossroads met 21 HIV-positive ladies, who came up with an entrepreneurial plan to support themselves and each other.
These inspiring ladies are being supported by Crossroads to build new houses together by learning how to make concrete building blocks. Once all their new houses have been built, they will continue to make the blocks to sell, providing themselves with an ongoing sustainable source of income.
One of the ladies who lost her home and belongings in the floods is Mama Victoria. She was very sick when the Crossroads team first met her. She was literally wasting away, desperately ill, unaware that she was HIV positive. Thanks to the support of the team and antiretroviral medication, she is now doing much better. The ladies voted unanimously for Mama Victoria to be one of the first ladies to receive a new home and she is now helping make blocks for others.
Crossroads Director, Mahendra, said:
“Because they own the project, the ladies are obviously calling the shots on how they do the houses. So, most of the decisions are really made by them, what size of house, whether they want a toilet inside, and so on.”
As well as being role models in their community, by passing on these skills to young girls, these ladies are also leading the way in changing mindsets that limit what women can do – erasing cultural gender norms that would position them as homemakers rather than house builders.
acet UK is raising funds for this work in South Africa, as well as projects in Zimbabwe and Nigeria, through The Big Give Christmas Challenge. Donations will have twice the impact as they will be doubled until midday on 5th December. Visit: www.bit.ly/acetUKBG2023 to give.