World AIDS Day – December 1, 2017 – By the King Baudouin Foundation
Fighting HIV and Aids in a region characterised by extreme poverty is one of the challenges faced by the VillageFXB program in Buterere, a neighbourhood of Bujumbura in Burundi. “Before the program began, people were ignorant about every aspect of this illness,” explained program coordinator Gisèle Ndereyimana. “They didn’t know how HIV and Aids was transmitted or how to protect themselves from the illness.” This led to numerous deaths among those affected.
A holistic approach
When the VillageFXB program began in Buterere in July 2013, Gisèle Ndereyimana realised that this initiative would make the difference. “What is special about this program is that it covers all aspects and all the people’s needs: you can’t fight Aids effectively if there are also on-going problems of malnutrition and hygiene”. In the VillageFXB model, the illness is integrated into an overall approach that covers various aspects of the beneficiaries’ lives from family planning to eating, hygiene, school support and income-generating activities.
“We noticed that people react better when we take all of their needs into consideration. And we also worked with community leaders to reinforce the impact of the program, with school directors, healthcare professionals, representatives from the church and local associations.”
And it is an approach that has produced results: by the end of the last program, which ran from April 2014 to March 2017, 100 families (759 people) had been able to sustainably improve their social, economic, personal and health situation.
Screening, treatment and prevention
There has also been a significant increase in the number of people being screened for the disease. “Almost 100% of participants voluntarily get screened. Before, they did nothing at all,” said Gisèle Ndereyimana.
People who are HIV positive have access to treatment, either antiretroviral or prophylactic. They also get psycho-social support to help them accept their condition and avoid feeling discriminated against.
“We are contributing to reducing the propagation of HIV and Aids. However, the illness is still incurable: the challenge remains great, in Bujumbura and elsewhere.”
Acting local, but with an international impact
The VillageFXB program in Burundi is fortunate to be able to count on support from the King Baudouin Foundation as well as from the Swim for Life initiative, a swimming marathon organised by the Brussels Gay Sports association. Thanks to this joint support, a total of almost €180,000 has been allocated to the VillageFXB programs in the DRC, Burundi and Rwanda since 2006.
“Our achievements have been realised thanks to our donors. In everything we do, there is the hand of the Foundation and Swim for Life,” concluded Gisèle Ndereyimana.