Hundreds of villagers in Mongu, Senanga and Kaoma are getting gifts that will keep on giving all year round: seeds, livestock and poultry that will help them be self-sufficient in food production. They’re also learning how to improve their vegetable gardens.
The program is sponsored by the NGO Concern Worldwide, which has introduced similar projects in Chad, Angola, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ethiopia and Liberia.
“We are providing them with seeds, tools. Recently we provided close to 2,000 goats to these support groups as well as we are providing poultry to these groups. Again we have distributed around 6,000 birds to them. We are also giving them support in digging boreholes as part of the water and sanitation program,” says Rakesh Katal who manages the group’s efforts in Zambia.
Food rich in protein and nutrients are expected to strengthen the immune systems of those living with HIV/AIDS.
Katal says Concern is also helping educate the villagers about how to prevent exposure to the AIDS virus.
“We are working a lot on the voluntary AIDS counseling and also undertake home-to-home visits to sensitize people to be tested. Those who [do not have the virus] are supported and encouraged to continue following behaviors which would prevent them from getting infectio,” she says.
Those who test positive for the HIV virus that causes AIDS are encouraged by trained counselors to take their medications faithfully and to eat a nutritious diet – one that includes balanced meals. They’re also taught how to rear basic livestock and poultry that will provide them with protein.
During previous Christmas seasons, Concern has provided this support and services for over 2,000 people in living with HIV in Zambia. It’s also helped establish 20 support groups in Zambia that have started vegetable and herb gardens to provide members dietary and herbal supplements.
Katal says this year’s Christmas for the rural communities of western Zambia will not be any different. He says as in previous years, Concern Worldwide will offer special training and help to Zambia’s rural communities.
Zambia is one of poorest countries in the world. Poverty, climate change and disease are some of the challenges undermining human development.
Nearly a quarter of the 12 million people is either infected with HIV or is affected by AIDS.
Concern Worldwide is an International non-profit organization that helps marginalized communities in Africa, Asia and Caribbean. It provides grants, community training, and farming assistance to the neediest of rural dwellers.