“When I tested HIV-positive in 2006, I lost hope as to me having the virus was a death-sentence. But look this is 2012, and I am very confident that I shall live to see 2030.Thanks to the USAID funded TUNAJALI HIV Care, Treatment and Support Services Program,” says Eva, a community home based care volunteer in Usungilo village, in Njombe."
Eva lost her first husband to the complications of HIV and AIDS in 2003. When she was diagnosed with HIV all her dreams were shattered. But, with the HIV care and treatment services she took heart and realized that there was life after HIV. She then fell in love with James and got married in 2010. James is HIV positive and lives positively. The couple is blessed with one HIV negative child, Deborah (2), as Eva got USAID supported HIV prevention services to prevent infections from her to her unborn child.
In 2006 Eva was selected as an HIV peer educator by Makete Support for People Living with HIV/AIDS (MASUPHA). In 2007 she formed her first PLHIV support group dubbed Fuata Masharti Uishi Kwa Matumaini (FUMAUMA) literally meaning adhere to HIV care and treatment and live positively. Since most members were financially challenged, TUNAJALI introduced Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) services to them. FUMAUMA transformed itself into a SILC group two years later whereby members including Eva save money through buying shares at Tsh1000 weekly and individuals borrow the money thereafter at a 10% interest rate.
“Through savings and borrowing in SILC I’ve built a house and managed to equip it with solar panel, satellite dish and other home appliances,” she says. Eva who is also very proud to have a very supportive husband by her side says, “We now own a shop, fish pond, poultry, piggery, cattle, acres of potatoes and beans. I was helpless but now I am of great help to my family and community members.”
Eva uses her success as testimony to motivate other PLHIVs to live positively and independently. “Being HIV positive doesn’t mean one has to be dependent or poor,” she says.
SILC has transformed life of many PLHIVs and their families in the region. As of March 31, 2013 Njombe had 138 SILC groups with 1,803 members and a cumulative saving of 283,953,380 Tanzanian shillings equivalent to 172,092 USD.
Since the introduction of SILC in the five TUNAJALI supported regions 16,336 PLHIVs have formed 634 groups whereas 6,225 members are males and 10,111 females. These members have savings of a cumulative 1,275,969,682 shillings equivalent to 777,315 USD. Other TUNAJALI regions are Iringa, Morogoro, Dodoma and Singida.