The CARE for AIDS center in the Mawenzi community launched in September of 2017. Mawenzi is a slum community on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam with an estimated population of 78,500. Community members live in informal settlements in the densely populated slum and have very little access to basic utilities like clean water and electricity.
The CARE for AIDS center in Mawenzi operates in partnership with Gospel Assembly Mission Church under the leadership of Pastor Perpetua Bayege Simon (pictured below) and center counselors Christina Mayunga and Kingsley Mwakinyali.
Health Counselor, Christina Mayunga: Christine joined the CARE for AIDS team in 2017 and she has faithfully and joyfully served clients in the Mawenzi community.
"Counseling is definitely my favorite part of my job!"
Spiritual Counselor, Kingsley Mwakinvali: Kingsley grew up in a large family in Zambia and is incredibly passionate about his work with CARE for AIDS.
"My life growing up was tough, and I know there are many out there who are suffering. It feels good to help!"
Client story- flora
Flora found out she was HIV-positive when she was pregnant with her second child. Her husband had known he was infected, but had not yet told her. It was 1991 when she found out, and there was not good medical care or medication readily available for HIV patients at the time. Flora and her husband started going to witch doctors and healers for help. Unfortunately, her husband quickly became very ill and had to quit his job. In 1994, her husband passed away and Flora was left afraid and alone.
When she went to the village to bury her husband, his family blamed her for his death. They chased Flora away and would not let her take their two children with her. They stole everything that belonged to her, including her home. Enraged, Flora immediately found a legal nonprofit to help her regain custody of her children.
After she won the legal battle for her children, Flora didn't know what to do next. She didn’t have work, she was living with HIV, her husband had died, and she didn’t have any money. She started doing small jobs whenever she could, and the church she attended helped her when they could- they gave Flora food and clothes and helped her to pay the children’s school fees.
In 2017, one of her friends told her about a local church that had opened a program for people who were living with HIV. The neighbor had been a client at a different CARE for AIDS center but had heard of the new center near Flora’s home in Mawenzi. Because the program was hosted in a church, Flora felt comfortable attending. Flora has now been a client at Mazwenzi center for 8 months. She has seen her stigma melt away completely because of this program. She has lived in the Mawenzi area all her life, but she has met new people through the program that have become like family to her. During group therapy, they share the issues they are facing and advise one another on how to get through their challenges. They encourage and love one another.
Flora no longer lives in fear or shame. Even when others talk negatively about HIV or AIDS, she is not afraid to educate them about the disease and disclose her status. Through the CARE for AIDS counseling, Flora has learned how to take care of her health and her children’s health. She has learned how to eat a proper diet and she has learned the importance of adhering well to her medication. Through the economic empowerment seminars, Flora has also learned how to make soap, detergent, bead necklaces and earrings, handbags, and tie-dye. She sells what she makes to people that live nearby or at the local market. Flora’s goal is to become a CARE for AIDS seminar facilitator one day. Her desire is for other people to experience the same freedom that she has experienced because of this program.