Changing Perceptions: Reports launched from Positive Voices, the national survey of people living with HIV

Today is the official launch of the Positive Voices Changing Perceptions reports, with results from a community-led project guided by participants in the national Positive Voices survey.

Positive Voices is one of the largest representative surveys of people living with HIV to date in the world, with over 4,400 participants. The survey asks about health and wellbeing, medications, experiences with healthcare, met and unmet needs, sex and relationships, lifestyle issues and financial security.

The Changing Perceptions reports bring the survey data to life by aligning statistics with personal stories and experiences of people living with HIV in order to challenge attitudes and change perceptions about HIV. This is why it is titled “changing perceptions.”  Continue reading “Changing Perceptions: Reports launched from Positive Voices, the national survey of people living with HIV”

Paying it forward: Watipa scholar launches scholarship program in Malawi

PHOTO-2018-06-23-16-15-34My name is Prudence Chavula. I am a Public Administration student at The University of Malawi, Chancellor College.  From childhood, I have always been passionate about community work. Growing up, I have been through a lot myself hence the desire to contribute towards the positive regeneration of my community.

After sitting for my secondary education in 2014, I started volunteering with various organizations that operate within my community.  On the 10th of January in 2015, I started my own initiative called “Go Fund A Girl Child” with an aim of transforming my society through education. Go Fund A Girl Child advocates for girl child education and women empowerment at large. This transformation is brought about by fighting against child marriages, influencing policy and attitude changes relating to girl child education, bringing back school drop outs to school and assist rural vulnerable and orphaned girls to remain in school.

Being a Watipa scholar acts as a motivation to do more for my community. For the initiative to grow I need to have a sound financial source which I can only get once I am done with my education and become independent. Watipa came through for me when I had completely lost hope.  Continue reading “Paying it forward: Watipa scholar launches scholarship program in Malawi”

Meet a graduating scholar: Congratulations Julia Brenda Omondi, Kenya

133e2184-57a1-4c04-9281-449671678a37“Having a degree in Psychology will open a new window of job opportunities for me of which I am ready and willing to take advantage of.”

Meet Julia Omondi, a 2016 Watipa scholar, who is graduating this year with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Counselling) from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Congratulations Julia – your hard work has paid off!

I am very proud of how far I have come. Looking back, I started out without a steady means of getting school fees, and my grades were really affected. However, since Watipa started supporting me by paying my school fees, my grades improved. In addition, being a Watipa scholar has given me the opportunity to be a part of an international group of scholars like myself, which is always a motivation. I find myself challenged by how much other young people in different countries are doing for their communities. Plus, some conversations we have on different topics such as climate change and human sexuality also make you see things in a different light. This enables one to learn. Seeing other scholars graduate has also been motivating. Being a part of the Watipa committee that makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees has been amazing.

Sometimes, standing before the young women I reach out to, I cannot ignore the fact that some, if not most of them, view me as a role model. So sometimes I share my personal story with them. For example, in August this year I was giving a group of sponsored students a talk. The high school students had not been performing well and I used my experience with Watipa to encourage them. I shared with them that there should be gradual improvement in their grades now that they no-longer endure the burden of unpaid school fees. I used myself as an example. I am proud of the opportunities I have received to support adolescent girls and young women in the community. Continue reading “Meet a graduating scholar: Congratulations Julia Brenda Omondi, Kenya”

Keep talking mental health

Guest blog by Rose Omollo, a Watipa Scholar in Kenya, for World Mental Health Day, 10th October 2018.

As a mental health advocate I have joined a group of other mental health advocates online to raise awareness and write blogs for sharing with those who are affected and those suffering from it as well.

Mental health is a vital aspect of human life, and as the World Health Organisation says, ‘health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing of an individual and not merely the absence of a disease or infirmity.’ This phrase implies that when we are not mentally stable then it means we are not healthy. When we talk of mental illness in the African context, our community understanding is often judgmental and seen as ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’. Continue reading “Keep talking mental health”

Meet a scholar: Dalitso Mawina, Malawi

Dalitso“Since I was a young girl I have always dreamt of being a nurse!”

Meet Dalitso Mawina, a 2017 Watipa scholar, studying Nursing and Midwifery course at St Luke’s College of Nursing And Midwifery in Likwenu, Malawi.

I am Dalitso Mawina. I am 23 years old and currently awaiting my results to proceed to level 2 of my Nursing and Midwifery course at St Luke’s College of Nursing and Midwifery in Likwenu, Malawi.

Since I was a young girl I have always dreamt of being a nurse. My motivation for choosing my career was to save people’s lives in my community, as well as my country, Malawi. Continue reading “Meet a scholar: Dalitso Mawina, Malawi”

Big dreams to change the world – happy International Youth Day!

AIDS2018 - Watipa 2Young people are the leaders of today – and of tomorrow. We know that at Watipa, and here is another example in the context of the global response to HIV.

On this International Youth Day, we are calling for meaningful, frequent, and wide engagement of adolescent girls and young women in the strategic development, planning, and delivery of programmes and services aimed at serving them… in lots of areas, including the response to HIV. Continue reading “Big dreams to change the world – happy International Youth Day!”

I want to be one of the best nurse midwives in my community: Meet Chanju Mwase, Watipa scholar, Malawi

Chanju breastfeeding student“I am hoping to be one of the best nurse midwives in my community. I dream of opening an antenatal care clinic where pregnant women will be screened to rule out any pregnancy complications.”

I am Chanju Mwase, and I am in my third year of studying Nursing and Midwifery at Kamuzu College of Nursing, University of Malawi.

There are a number of things that motivated me to study nursing and midwifery. One of the things is the desire that I have to help others. I feel passionate about nursing and midwifery being accessible to all people. I want to serve women and improve maternal and child health care. Being aware of the shortage of nurses and midwives in my country, I want to cover up that shortage. I also have an interest in maternal health.

I am happy to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week this week, 1-7thAugust 2018, along with the World Health Organisation. Continue reading “I want to be one of the best nurse midwives in my community: Meet Chanju Mwase, Watipa scholar, Malawi”

Meet a biotechnician: Watipa scholar from South Africa

“I would like to use my education to find affordable medicine so that the people with minimal socio-economic resources in my community can afford to be healthy.”

I am a 2017 Watipa scholar, and an undergraduate studying Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

I’m very fascinated by cells, how they function and the human body. After doing research on what path of study I should follow I came across a very interesting field of study : biotechnology. A course of science that uses living systems to produce medicine, products, etc that help to make people and animals lives better. And this is what I want to one day, to help the world.

The more I learn at university the more I gain insight about science and the developing world. And by this I can educate the young and old in my community, especially young people who do drugs and alcohol, to help them live a healthy lifestyle. My studies will help me to teach the children and grown-ups alike in my community about diseases, how to prevent them from getting infected, how these diseases can be treated, and how to keep people healthy.

I want to be successful at university and study diligently to hone my understanding on cells and the human body. I hope that one day, when I get my degree in Biotechnology, to pursue a career as an immunologist. I would like to work alongside the brightest minds in microbiology and virology to learn from them and help contribute to find cures for deadly diseases – I want to focus on finding cures for diseases that affect millions of people globally and thousands in my community.

I want to help save babies, children, and adults who have been dealt a bad hand in life and are unable to defend themselves against brutal sicknesses by finding affordable medicine so that the people with minimal socio-economic resources in my community can afford to be healthy. This is what I hope to one day be able to give back to my community. I also dream that one day I will create a novel drug that will cure HIV.

 Watipa scholar and young man aged 20, South Africa

Meet a scholar: Aisha Bukenya, Uganda

fullsizeoutput_3866.jpeg“I hope that one day I’ll be able to give back to my community through provision of world class healthcare.”

Meet Aisha Bukenya, a 2016 Watipa scholar, studying a Bachelor’s of Pharmacy at Kampala International University Western Campus. She has recently completed her exams for the year and is attending ward rounds as part of her program. 

I am Aisha Bukenya, and I am pursuing a bachelors degree in pharmacy in my final semester of study. I chose this path of study because the health system in my country and in Africa as a whole has always broken my heart. I feel that there is a lot more that we can do. Continue reading “Meet a scholar: Aisha Bukenya, Uganda”

Medical Outreach Mission: #MOM’s the word for community care of the elderly in Lilongwe, Malawi

fullsizeoutput_386d“We don’t have to be rich to help someone out here.  My hope is that more people will be inspired to do the same for their community.”

Josephine Kondowe, Watipa Scholar, Malawi

Malawi has less than one physician for every 54,000 citizens and has a healthcare budget of only $77 per person per year.  The country also faces great challenges in terms of the response to diseases such as HIV, Malaria and tuberculosis, as well as ongoing concerns relating to nutrition and food insecurity.

As the name itself hints, Medical Outreach Mission (MOM) is an organisation that works through the Church to care and provide for people in need, particularly the sick and the elderly.

We reach out to people in their most difficult and challenging times to let them know that they are not alone, and that they are loved. So, it if happens that they are sick and can’t afford some medication, we buy the medication for them. If they don’t have clothes, we gather clothes for them. If they have no food, then we help them with that as well! The help we provide may not be long-term but at least with the little we do we change peoples mind and hearts.

With our actions we tell them that love exists. We know that for us to share the will of God, we don’t have to always carry our bibles, we can simple carry love.

On April 14th, we help our word by reaching out to twelve elderly people at Kauma village in Lilongwe, Malawi. There we gave away vital items such as soap tablets, over a kilogram of sugar, a further kilogram of salt, candles and match sticks. At this initial visit we unfortunately didn’t have enough information on their medical records in order to buy them the medication that they required. However, next time we can proceed on this front too. Some of these elderly people were sick and more generally were living with challenges that come with old age.

It was simply amazing to see how people were moved with the little things we gave them. This then encouraged us – we don’t have to be rich to help someone out here.  My hope is that more people will be inspired to do the same for their community.

Let’s reach out and spread the love. #MOM.

           Josephine Kondowe, Watipa Scholar 2017 and young woman aged 21, Malawi, with editorial support from Sam Mudie

fullsizeoutput_386b