PIUMA and Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope begin website project

Solidarity exchanges with Canadian partners is becoming a tradition for the PLWHA self-help and advocacy group PIUMA. The Bulongwa-based organization will be welcoming Gabe Maldoff, a McGill University student, for a two month project focused on building capacity for PIUMA to go online with news and updates from the organization.

PIUMA Advisory Committee member Jackson Mbogela is very involved with planing the project.

"PIUMA has wanted to be online for a long time," he says. "We are looking forward to Gabe's time with us."

PIUMA was founded on World AIDS Day, 2005. It quickly established a reputation for tough advocacy on behalf of its members, including demanding an end to corruption in public health services. Last year, it began operation of its own voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) services, taking HIV education and testing to villages in Makete District where no testing had been available before.

More than 2,000 people benefitted directly from PIUMA's VCT services. The organization is proud to have made its contribution to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete's national testing campaign.

Unfortunately, HIV services are generally ineffective and inaccessible to most of the people in the more remote parts of Makete District. Makete is the poorest region in all Tanzania and thought to have one of the highest prevalences of HIV infection in the country. Efforts by a number of NGOs and international agencies to establish adequate care have been insufficient and unsustainable, often due to corruption and mismanagement in the provision of health care by public, NGO, and Lutheran church officials.

Support for the PIUMA website project comes from the senior economics students of Lindsay Place High School in Pointe Claire, Canada, who held a "24 Hour Famine" to raise funds to support Highlands Hope and PIUMA.

PIUMA is imara kama simba - strong like a lion!