Nestled on the shore of Lake Malawi is Nkhata Bay, a small town in south-east Africa. Beautiful - yes. But life’s not always picture postcard for people living here. Malawi is the fifth poorest country in the world, with half of the population living below the poverty line.
I’m raising money for the Butterfly Space (www.butterflyspacemalawi.com/about-us), a life-changing charity that nurtures opportunities for the community in Nkhata Bay. I’m travelling there in December to volunteer on one of their projects that helps people living with HIV to access much needed support: http://www.butterflyspacemalawi.com/cause-view/faawn-hiv-group/
Stigma remains a key barrier to progress. Whilst medication advances are to be celebrated and support people to live long healthy lives and removes risk of transmission, HIV still carries a lot of stigma in local communities. As with the UK, there has been a real lack of public information about advances and therefore it can be a very isolating place to be for many. There are also cultural differences so disclosure can be particularly hard.
I will be volunteering with the local community living with HIV by giving support, education, counselling, offering a nutrition programme and exploring business opportunities that generate income. This will be done through some peer groups and by donating, you’ll help for this so continue, to develop a really sustainable model, and to pay for interpreting support so that people can access some 1:1 support alongside the groups.
Other life-changing projects at Butterfly Space
Some other amazing projects at the Butterfly Space include: workshops for adults with a disability to help them learn new skills and build connections; empowering women to develop new business ideas and generate their own income; providing new facilities and supplies for local schools; supplying teaching support; supporting young people with disabilities and much more: http://www.butterflyspacemalawi.com/projects/
What could your donation buy?
· 15p per brick or £10 for a bag of cement for a new school building
· £8 - a meal for an HIV peer support group of 10
· £20 - porridge for one nursery school class for a month
· £40 - an interpreter for a month to give specialist one-to-one support for someone with an HIV diagnosis
· £50 – Transport and lunch for a month to help a young person with a disability become independent and participate in their community
· £100 - a teacher’s salary for one month
Where do I fit in? I’ve just finished volunteering with an organisation here in Bristol - Brigstowe Project - which supports local people with HIV. It’s been so rewarding – and I’ve learned first hand how important it is for those with long-term conditions to make connections with other people going through the same thing. As well as this, for 15 years I’ve been working in our wonderful NHS and in social care, mostly in Bristol, working closely with the voluntary and community sector. Bristol Community Health has been an amazing journey, and now it's time for the next one to start.
This has been such a rich chapter of my life, and I know I can use what I’ve learnt to help people further afield. I’m passionate about making our world more inclusive and fair for the good of everyone in our communities.
Please donate, share - and make all the difference.