McGill Nursing student works with local peer educators in Njombe

CHAKUNIMU (pictures to follow)
Peer Health Educators (PHEs) providing Home Based Care to the villages of TANWAT Company Hospital from September to October 2008. Photo documentary update from McGill University nursing student, Andra Leimanis.

The bicycle is an invaluable means of transportation for the PHEs. The distances between and within villages are vast taking anywhere from 30 minutes up to 1.5 hours in one direction to reach a village. The terrain is also challenging with steep hills, sandy roads & paths and tough weather conditions.

Upon arrival in the village, the PHEs would gather and meet with the village mayor for introductions, explain purpose of visiting, followed by the signing of the village guest book(left photo). We were warmly greeted into the homes of the clients either sitting inside a room or outside in a central courtgiven a small stool to sit on. All family members and caregivers were actively taking part in the discussion and sharing of information (right photo). The PHEs provide substantial psychosocial and spiritual support to clients and their families. They also monitor the condition of the clients, their medications and providing referrals to local dispensaries or hospital if the need arises. The PHEs provide education to the families and play a key role in the reduction of stigma related to HIV/AIDS.

A great deal of walking occurs between homes which provides an opportunity for the PHEs to talk amongst themselves and support eachother in their work. The commraderie between colleagues is admirable and certainly inspiring to witness(left photo). As is typical in a village life "everyone knows oneanother" and the PHEs are instrumental in "connecting" with the community, and inquiring about those villagers who have fallen ill and requiring support and care.

The PHEs also support clients who find themselves in impoverished situations with income generating ideas and solutions. A group of villagers have united to develop a business in growing and selling mini avocado plants (left photo).

At the end of a long day's work we would eat at the local restaurant (a single small room with 1-2 tables). Food was always abundant consisting of ugali (corn maize), rice, beans, meat, and vegetable with a thirst quenching soda: Pepsi, Coca Cola or Fanta!

PIUTA support group for clients with HIV/AIDS is held every Sunday evening in Nyumbanitu Village. The meeting takes place at the CHAKUNIMU office (right photo). CHAKUNIMU plans to expand this service by developing support groups in each of the 6 villages. Promotion of this service was provided in all our home visits in whi