HIV Caregivers Feted in Zambia

AIDS orphans

Two CRS caregivers attend the Zambia Caregiver and Volunteer Appreciation Day in Lusaka on Nov. 26. Photo by Paul Macek/CRS.

CRS volunteers were among those honored during Zambia Caregivers Appreciation Day on Nov. 25 which feted some 18,500 people who provide home-based care for HIV and AIDS patients as part of the PEPFAR-funded RAPIDS program.

At the main celebration at a sports complex in the capital Lusaka, CRS country representative Paul Macek introduced caregiver Nora Tabita Chama to the distinguished guests, which included Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, and the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, Donald Booth.

Chama, 36, is a caregiver in the Lusaka area working with CRS partner Jesus Cares Ministries. She became a caregiver three years ago after receiving such care herself while ill. Now recovered, Chama has 15 clients she visits regularly, making sure they are getting medical care, referring them to the hospital when needed, seeing that they are following their drug regimen or getting proper palliative care.

The event in Lusaka was only one of many held throughout the country, timed to coincide with America’s Thanksgiving on Nov. 27 and World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

“The day was wonderful,” Macek said of the Lusaka celebration. “We assembled over 100 of our caregivers working in the urban areas of Lusaka, providing hope, support and comfort to thousands. These volunteers spend their precious time reaching out in solidarity with others less fortunate than themselves. Without these individuals, our programs would be limited in their outreach.”

The day was recognized in a letter from first lady Laura Bush, who has visited CRS programs in Zambia.
“On this special day and throughout the year, I am grateful to Zambian Caregivers for your commitment to helping the next generation stay HIV-free,” she wrote. “Your compassionate efforts are an inspiration to all those working to bring an end to HIV/AIDS.

Macek said he is often amazed by the spirit of volunteerism that prevails in Zambia and other African countries.

“We in the West still have much to learn from Africa,” said Macek. “With little more than the clothes on their backs, these poor and sometimes sick volunteers reach out to almost 30,000 patients and over 25,000 orphans and vulnerable children throughout Zambia.”

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One Response to “HIV Caregivers Feted in Zambia”

  1. Lou Enge Says:

    I work with Mobility International USA and will be working with CHIN in Lusaka to assist planning to integrate children with disabilities into service system.

    I will be in Lusaka in early May 2009. I would like to meet with Paul Macek while in Lusaka if possible.

    Thank you.

    Lou

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