HIV Mothers Group - Kolladiba

  • Leicester Lead: Christine Iliffe

Kolladiba is 35 km south of Gondar. It is surrounded by Armachiho to the north, Lake Tana to the south, Zuria to the east and Delgi Woreda to the west. The Kolladiba Health Centre (HIV) Mothers’ Support Group (HMSG) is an official association, recognised by government. This group consists of women from Kolladiba town districts 1&2, Atikilet, Fenja, Jangua, Dembia and Salje Chillo kebeles (local districts) as well as neighbouring areas (Delgie and Shaura).

Approximately 1,146 women in the region become pregnant each year. Currently, HMSG has 62 (5.4%) members receiving active support. HMSG is self-funded with each mother pays 2 birr monthly (about 6p). Currently, there is about 2,000 birr in the communal kitty (£62). This money is available for short term loans to members to help with the cost of transport to hospital, for example. It’s main role however, is to give health education advice for mothers, pre and post-delivery.

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Members of HMSG with their crops, supported by Abebe and Ashenafi

In order to reduce the transmission of HIV to their unborn children and breast fed babies, HIV positive mothers need to take anti-retroviral treatment (ART) meticulously. Mothers are encouraged to come to the Health Centre for delivery (about 80% of women in rural areas deliver at home). Women are supported during their pregnancy and for twelve months after delivery, attending the HMSG in Kolladiba twice a week for 18 months.

Over the past year, 38 out of 40 babies born to women in the HMSG were HIV negative at one year of age. Apart from receiving ART medication, health advice and a snack of tea and bread, there is no incentive for the mothers to attend regularly.

HMSG would like to generate income in a way that would improve the health and nutritional status of the community. After long discussions with the HMSG group, I decided to approach the Worida, for land to be made available for the group to cultivate.

The Local Government office agreed to support the group in a farming project by giving them 1,000 square metres of land. They insisted that the 48 women attend a formal training session of 5-6 days, on cultivation, harvesting, selling produce and finance management. The members of the association attend the course in February 2015 and after this, the HMSG purchased all the equipment so they could start cultivating the land.

I was very pleased that on my visit at the beginning of May, I was present when maize was sown on their land, at the ideal time just before the rainy season. They are planning to have 3 crop rotations per year, the next being in September.
The local government office will inspect the land, and if they feel that they are doing a good job, they will then allocate more land.

We decided that we needed 2 project managers to help support the women, first we have Abebe who works at Kolladiba Health Centre, and is responsible for all medication for people living with HIV. He is available to help the women at any time and secondly, Ashenafi who is in charge of Community Based Rehabilitation at Gondar Hospital. He has experience of setting up small self-supporting projects, is assisting the group.

We look forward to a successful year’s farming.

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