Standing in Solidarity on World AIDS Day

Written by Annelise Jolley on December 1, 2013 in General

Today is World AIDS Day. Many will wear red ribbons as symbols of universal awareness and support of those affected by the disease. Today we stand in solidarity with the 35 million people worldwide living with HIV.

Last year, 1.6 million people died of AIDS. Of those deaths, 1.2 million occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, an area that includes two countries where Plant With Purpose works: Burundi and Tanzania. Tanzania was one of the countries most devastated by HIV/AIDS, and still suffers from a generalized, widespread epidemic.

Thanks to better access to medication, the overall health of HIV-infected Tanzanians is improving. However, the disease remains a primary cause of death among adults. And while AIDS victims now live longer, they are often sick and need extensive care over many years. An infected family member can break the finances of already poor families and lead to further poverty.

Plant With Purpose programs provide essential care to families impacted by the disease. Here are three ways our programs support those living with HIV/AIDS:

1. Bio-intensive farming

Leni, a mother and AIDS victim in Tanzania, stands by her bag garden.

Leni, a mother and AIDS victim in Tanzania, stands by her bag garden.

Put simply, bio-intensive farming is any farming method that produces a high crop yield from a minimal amount of land and effort. Techniques like double dugs and bag gardens help families grow the high quality, nutritious vegetables that are essential for people living with HIV. Even with the help of government-provided drugs, AIDS victims need a highly nutritious diet in order to see true improvement in their condition. Bio-intensive gardens produce more in a small, contained space and can be well maintained by someone with limited energy.

2. Community-based microfinance

Families impacted by HIV/AIDS are very vulnerable. A large portion of HIV victims are adults aged 15-49, often parents in the prime of their life. When mothers and fathers become sick, grandparents and children assume many parental responsibilities.  The cost of caring for a sick relative is large and prolonged, so community-based microfinance groups (VSLAs) help families build a savings safety net. These savings groups also give farming families access to some basic insurance products through the groups’ built-in social fund.

3. Investing in trees

Each of Plant With Purpose’s 172 VSLA groups in Tanzania has committed to planting 10,000 trees over the next year.  These trees are an investment that is particularly powerful for families impacted by illness. While AIDS victims may enjoy several healthy years, they will also suffer long periods of illness. A tree is an investment in the future that will pay off in several years, whether from fruit or timber. Trees also help reduce the time and distance that sick family members need to travel for firewood.

Today and every day Plant With Purpose stands with individuals and families impacted by HIV and AIDS. We give thanks that we worship a God of healing, and ask for His good hand of healing and comfort on AIDS victims around the world.

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…” Ps. 103:2-4

Statistics from the UNAIDS 2013 Global Fact Sheet.

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