PIUMA representatives visit Austria

PIUMA, the HIV patient activist group in Bulongwa, Makete District, has sent a delegation to Austria to receive a prize for its effective advocacy on behalf of people living with HIV-AIDS (PLWHAs) in rural Tanzania.

Wema Sanga is a member of the Executive Committee of PIUMA. She is accompanied by Muhingo Rweyemamu, editor of the investigative newspaper Rai, published weekly in Dar es Salaam. Mr. Rweyemamu was one of the first journalists to report on the situation of PLWHAs in Makete District in a series of searing reports published in 2003 and 2004. He has continued as a friend and trusted advisor to PIUMA.

Ms. Sanga has worked as a volunteer and staff person with PIUMA since its founding. She has a passionate commitment to PIUMA's work on behalf of AIDS victims, especially children and orphans, and she has been a key leader in the group's fight against corruption in the local health care system.

The Austrian Lutheran development agency EAWM is the main sponsor of the visit. While in Austria, the PIUMA representatives will meet with AIDS acitivists at the University of Vienna, at the Vienna AIDS Centre, and with supporters in Salzburg (in particular Gerhard Raxendorfer, a close collaborator with PIUMA since its earliest days), Bürmoos, Graz, and Münster (Germany).

They will also attend a "Life Gala" and fund-raising event at the end of the month in Vienna and participate in events marking International AIDS Day in the Austrian capital.

Weman and Muhingo will have an opportunity to meet the nursing students who worked with the organization last summer to train home-care workers for PLWHAs as well as the students at the Vienna design school who are working with PIUMA to develop a khanga pattern for the organization.