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 Health  Mali Project #4874

Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients

by GAIA Vaccine Foundation
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients

This October, GAIA Vaccine Foundation celebrated World Food Day, a day marked by the United Nations which seeks to bring awareness to issues related to food insecurity. Since 1982, World Food Day has aimed to bring people together across the world in the fight to end global hunger. At present, the Food Aid Foundation estimates 795 million people in the world to have inadequate access to the necessary food that is essential for leading a healthy and active life.  

The 2019 World Food Day theme is"Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World".The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) writes, "Achieving Zero Hunger is not only about addressing hunger, but also nourishing people, while nurturing the planet. This year, World Food Day calls for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone."

A recent report estimated 600.56 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa to be food insecure. Food security does not only relate to having access to enough calories to consume, but also access to food that is nutritious and affordable. The FAO defines a healthy diet as "one that meets the nutritional needs of individuals by providing sufficient, safe, nutritious and diverse foods to lead an active life and reduce the risk of disease". 

GAIA Vaccine Foundation understands the importance of a healthy diet, particularly when undergoing medical treatment. This is especially true for our HIV+ patients at Hope Center Clinic in Sikoro, Mali, which is why in 2008 GAIA founded its' "Nutrition and Peer Support for HIV+ Patients" program.

Twice per week, HIV+ staff prepare a nutritious meal for HIV+ members of the community and their families. This program not only provides healthy meals, but also seeks to combat the stigma attached to HIV by bringing members of the community together. In 2019, GAIA and Hope Center Clinic have already served over 3,000 meals!

With your ongoing support, GAIA can continue to serve meals to some of the most vulnerable people in Sikoro. A donation of just $30 provides a weekly meal for 1 mother and 3 children. 

Thank you for your generous support to GAIA and our programs!

Meals are an important part of Malian culture. At meal times, families often gather around a communal dish, sharing an assortment of grains, yams, vegetables, and occasionally meats. However, food insecurity, defined as a lack of reliable access to affordable quality food is high in Mali. Food insecurity has increased in Mali with more frequent droughts and regional instability after the 2012 coup. A 2019 report by the World Food Program estimated 330,0000 people in Mali to be food insecure and the number is expected to rise throughout the rest of this year. 

It is well known that a healthy diet is essential when undergoing medical treatments. However, many Malians do not have access to consistent nutritious meals which can inhibit effective healing. GAIA and the Hope Center Clinic understand the importance of healthy meals when battling HIV, which inspired the creation of the “Nutrition and Peer Support for HIV+ Patients” program in 2008 that provides meals to clinic patients twice per week. 

GAIA’s support to the Hope Center Clinic’s nutrition program is an essential way to support patients and their families. The program has continued to hold bi-weekly meals which are prepared by HIV+ patients. Not only does the program provide nutritious meals to patients, it also helps to destigmatize HIV in the community. Both patients and their families are welcome to attend and during the first 6 months of 2019, 1,870 meals have already been served in Bamako. 

With your continued support to GAIA and the Hope Center Clinic, we will be able to continue supporting the Bamako community. A donation of just $10 provides a weekly meal to an HIV+ patient. Please visit our Global Giving page to learn more about how you can help us prepare meals in Bamako today. 

The ASACOMSI team fights Stigma with GAIA VF
The ASACOMSI team fights Stigma with GAIA VF

Peer support is critical for fighting the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

Communal meals provide both nutritional and moral support for our patients. The Sikoro Hope Association, who runs the Nutrition program twice weekly, has identified several immediate needs to continue the provision of nutritional meals and to prepare for the consistent increase in participation, including cookware supplies, cooking fuel, storage cabinets, tables and stools.

 

Please help us buy pots and pans for this important communal activity!

The Nutrition Program for HIV+ members of Sikoro Hope Association 

  • Provides nutritional meals at the clinic twice weekly, encouraging clinic attendance.
  • Offers a supportive community and weekly nutrition to HIV+ individuals and their families.
  • Destigmatizes HIV within the community by “normalizing” the presence of HIV+ patients at the clinic
  • Supports and empowers HIV+ women as it is a woman-run association.

One of GAIA VF most exciting objectives for 2019 is to provide greater stability to this woman-led program.

Sikoro Hope Association
Sikoro Hope Association

Let me begin by thanking each and every one of you for your support over the years.

Thanks to donors like you, the Nutrition and Peer Support programming for people living with HIV in Bamako, Mali has continued to grow. The Nutritional Support Program was created in 2008 in response to concerns about patient adherence to HIV treatment as food insecurity was negatively impacting patients’ ability to correctly take medications. This is especially important for an HIV+ pregnant woman who needs additional nutritional support during the pregnancy.

This program aims to reduce hunger while also battling the large amount of misunderstanding about HIV in Mali. The program deliberately practices the traditional Malian style of sharing a meal together where participants all sit around a communal bowl to eat in order to reduce stigma and restore trust.

The meals are prepared by the HIV+ women of the Sikoro Hope Association whom also provide a critical support system for new patients suffering the initial shock of the HIV+ diagnosis. They share their personal experiences, emphasize the importance of preventing further transmissions, and distribute condoms donated by GAIA.

At a time when Mali is experiencing political unrest and the consequential exiting of international aid, your support is imperative to continue improving the lives of generations of women and children in Mali. Moving into 2019, GAIA plans to provide the association with many standard needs (food, wood, cooking tools, storage cabinets, tables, and stools), but also hopes to help construct an improved space for the association to expand their programming.

Thank you again for your support!

Meals Served per Month
Meals Served per Month
Our cooks are always in a good mood!
Our cooks are always in a good mood!

GAIA's Nutritional Support Program has been in existence 2008; we're close to celebrating 10 years, and every penny of support comes from indiviual donors like you!

The nutrtion program was created in response to issues around adherence to HIV treatment. GAIA’s doctors were quick to realize that food insecurity was negatively impacting patients’ ability to correctly take medications. The program has long been a core part of GAIA’s community initiatives to foster a social support network for people living with HIV.

And what types of issues do people face? A UNAIDS study asked, "would you buy fresh vegetables from a shopkeeper or vendor if you knew that this person had HIV?” and 46% of Malians responded “No”.

So in addition to managing their treatment, people living with HIV in Mali can potentially lose their jobs or livelihoods from severe social stigmatization. The “Sikoro Hope” HIV+ Peer Support Group cooks meals twice a week for all of the HIV+ community members, their children, and the clinic staff. Sharing a meal together between patients and staff is an important stigma-reducing activity that also provides critical nutritional support.

Despite the current lack of adequate space and materials, the HIV+ women's assocaition members display their commitment through their weekly preparation of meals.  As leaders, they manage the program each week and also make recommendations for  program improvements.

Our Nutritional Support Program served 10,491 meals to HIV+ adults and their children from 2015 to 2017, and your support is crucial for purchasing food, cooking tools, and fuel.

Will you help us celebrate a decade of this important program? Your contribution provides not only food, but community and a support network for people living with HIV in Mali.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts,

We have more children participants than adults!
We have more children participants than adults!
Someone has to clean the empty bowls!
Someone has to clean the empty bowls!
 

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Organization Information

GAIA Vaccine Foundation

Location: Providence, RI - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @GAIAVaccine
Project Leader:
GAIA Vaccine Foundation
Founder
Providence, RI United States
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