Thursday, October 14, 2010

Living--really living--with HIV/AIDS

One of the occupational hazards of being a female refugee is that you have little or no protection from sexually-transmitted diseases. Vulnerable to rape,  infected by a spouse, or drawn into prostitution as the only way to feed their children, many displaced women suffer from HIV/AIDS.  In recent years, western countries (led by the US) have stepped up to provide anti-retroviral medicines to infected individuals in post-conflict zones. These meds, however, are effective only when taken with sufficient nutrition.  Without adequate food, the meds actually cause the women to become sicker. Women in Sudan who are displaced by war and afflicted with AIDS rarely have sufficient food.

MBB’s very first micro-enterprise project benefited 14 such women living in the town of Nimule, S. Sudan.  Besides creating income that transformed their economic situation, the project had a noticeable (and sometimes dramatic) impact on the physical health of the women.  A successful micro-enterprise effort = more monthly income = more ability to purchase food = greater effectiveness of the anti-retroviral drugs = improved personal health.  And when the women are feeling better, they can work harder, and earn even more income the following month. Micro-enterprise loans (ranging from $74 - $300, based on the women’s business plans) from Mercy Beyond Borders are quite literally giving new life to these women and their children.

 Pictured here is Aryemu with the charcoal-making business she started in Nimule, Sudan, with funding from your donations to Mercy Beyond Borders..

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