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Positive living in Zambia

In 2006, 49 year-old Charles Ngandu found out he was living with HIV. Thanks to training he received from one of Concern’s partners, he has been able to live positively and help his community. This piece was written by Reginald Ntomba.

Charles is a resident of Nangula, an area 55 kilometres north east of Mongu, the provincial capital of Zambia’s western province. In 2009, Development Aid from People to People (DAPP), Concern’s partner, introduced a programme for people living with HIV in this area. 

Spreading the word

Charles was one of those chosen to be trained in a variety of subjects: 

  • Basic facts on HIV and TB
  • The importance of good nutrition
  • Care and support
  • Treatment 
  • Hygiene 

Following this training, Charles went back to his community to spread the word.

Benefitting the community 

Since then, his passion and skills have been recognised by the local hospital in his area, where he now delivers HIV lessons to mothers that attend antenatal sessions. 

Speaking keenly about this work, he says: 

I am passionate to teach so that we do not lose lives.

Positive life

Charles is very open about the fact that he lives with HIV. During World TB Day – which was commemorated in his area on March 24 – he stood before hundreds of people and spoke about how, in the years since his diagnoses, he has been able to live a productive and positive life. He also encouraged people to go for HIV testing. 

Campaigning for change

One of the major concerns of people living with HIV in rural Zambia is the long distance required to reach centres administering antiretroviral drugs. This has caused some people to give up on their treatment before it is finished. 

However, thanks to Charles and his colleagues, people living with HIV in Nangula no longer have to travel such long distances. 

In his monthly reports to DAPP, he consistently emphasised the need for a drug-administering centre in the area. In March 2010, the government responded by opening a new wing at Nangula’s health centre administering antiretroviral drugs. 

Lobbying government

Concern and its partners have played a part in this by consistently lobbying the government to deliver the services desperately needed. 

Another lesson here is that investing in people is one of the best ways of communicating with different about issues like HIV. The benefits, as Charles’ story makes clear, are immense.