Letters

Participatory learning about HIV and AIDS

It is vital to use a participatory approach for introducing and also for building competence around the many different issues relating to HIV and AIDS.

As it is said of learning:
I hear … I forget.
I see … I remember.
I experience it … I can do it.

We need to create and facilitate learning experiences which individuals and communities can apply practically to address issues around HIV prevention, support, treatment and positive living. These need to be linked to achieving what people most want and value in life – their goals and dreams.

Bridges of Hope is a helpful package offering a range of participatory, learning techniques and training activities. For more information, check the website www.bridgesofhope.info

Peter Labouchere, HIV and AIDS Training Consultant, Box 131, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Email: peterl@mweb.co.zw

Breaking the silence surrounding HIV and AIDS

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), many people have died as a result of HIV and AIDS but these terms are rarely referred to. Many people in our country thought AIDS was a myth or a mysterious illness that people were reluctant to name. Instead they would refer to HIV and AIDS as the malaria of Eastern Africa, poison, the rusty nail, or the ‘ka kidudu’ (bug).

Thankfully, people here now recognise that HIV and AIDS is not a myth but an illness that leads to death. However, people are still reluctant to speak openly about it. Although most people know others with HIV and AIDS, it is still seen as a source of mockery and shame for the sick person and their family. Our people have now understood the importance of breaking the ‘silence’ surrounding HIV and AIDS. Not talking about AIDS is more dangerous than living with HIV. Parents now explain to their children the damage caused by HIV and how it can be avoided.

However, the number of people living with HIV and AIDS continues to rise, despite an increasing number of campaigns to educate people. While conferences on AIDS are held, the virus continues to spread. Why is this? Footsteps 60 highlighted the difference between facilitation and traditional teaching. DRC needs many more good facilitators to help people to ‘own’ this information and to change their attitudes and behaviour.

Jean-Pierre Ndaribitse Kajangwa, Goma/North Kivu Diocese, Democratic Republic of Congo

Vehicle batteries

Do any readers have suggestions either for safely disposing of old vehicle batteries or for recycling them and using them in some other way? This is an issue of concern for health and safety reasons with our staff working in remote areas.

Mike Webb, Tearfund, 100 Church Road, Teddington, TW11 8QE, UK

Breeding termites!

We heard that local chicken-breeders used termites to feed their few chickens. Would it be possible to use termites as food for a large chicken farm? That might mean breeding termites! Have any readers ever used large quantities of termites as chicken feed in this way? How could we go about it? We would appreciate any suggestions.

Christian and Heidi Meyer, Centre Apostolique de Formation, 01 BP 550, Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso Email: c.h.meyer@gmx.net


WHO declares TB an emergency in Africa

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared tuberculosis (TB) an emergency in Africa. The number of new TB cases each year in many African countries has quadrupled since 1990, due largely to the link with HIV and AIDS, poverty and weak health systems. The disease is killing more than half a million people in Africa every year. Around the world, TB accounts for two million deaths every year. Urgent action is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal targets for reducing deaths by TB.

‘It is tragic that this disease has not been brought under control, because I am living proof that TB can be effectively treated and cured,’ said Nobel prizewinner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who along with former South African President Nelson Mandela is a survivor of the disease. ‘The problem is huge and medical authorities cannot overcome it alone, they need help.’ Lack of funding makes fighting the epidemic difficult, but more financial resources alone will not solve the TB problem. Dedicated efforts must also be made to strengthen health systems. 

Sam Ajibola (in Johannesburg) Email: ajibolas@afro.who.int
Patrick Bertrand (francophone media) Email
p.bertrand@noos.fr