Ambassadorship/Championship is one of the innovations being used by Pamodzi Project to empower communities in districts like Lilongwe. The approach identified champions/ambassadors in the community and at institutions of higher learning to serve as the voice on community health issues and help their fellow community members identify health priorities and take control of their own health even when confronted with the most challenging news about their health.
Learning that you are HIV-positive can be one of the most difficult experiences you go through in life. Once tested, people feel scared, sad or even angry which is part of the processes towards coping with something that can be life changing.
A 34-year-old Susan Uledi is a woman living with HIV in Lilongwe District. Her village has a total of 1,100 Households with a population of 6,343. With support from Pamodzi, Uledi was trained as Ambassador/Champion on HIV/SRHR and Gender Based Violence.
Three weeks After SRHR training, Uledi went to her community and briefed the Village heads about her role as community Ambassador/Champion. After briefing the village heads, she went ahead conducting door to door and group sessions encouraging people to go for HIV testing. She also shared with her community the importance of disclosing one’s HIV status and the benefits of adhering to ART when one is HIV positive.
She noted that the members in her community needs on HIV messages but they were failing to voice them out because due to shyness and fear of stigma. After Uledi’s first meeting 2 members of the community disclose their status to her.
“I tested HIV positive in 2005. I was a treatment defaulter for a long time and I was not aware of the consequences of defaulting until I met Susan Uledi the Ambassador/champion who clarified the importance of ART adherence. I took the message seriously. Susan did not only stop at providing the messages to me, she also linked me up with the ART service providers”. Narrated one woman who was among those who got HIV treatment information from Uledi.)
Another man also who also tested HIV positive in 2013 but was shy and afraid to disclose his status since then made up his mind to disclose his status after Susan had engaged him due her door-to-door visitation. He is now a member of Nkhangwi support Group.
Susan Uledi is proud to have been trained as an ambassador/Champion because before the training, she was not able to speak in public. “The training I received totally transformed me. Now I am a voice of other voiceless people, able to train others and able to provide guidance on HIV and AIDS, SRHR and GBV issues. A am also able to refer people to the right service providers” Narrated Susan Uledi