Each place and each family has its own story. In Liangshan Prefecture, Butuo County, is a woman whose life changed through hope, trust and belief in the TCE Field Officer. The TCE Butuo Office staff met this woman when they visited one of the villages for monitoring and evaluation.
“The Field Officer had beforehand introduced to us the local village situation and talked about this particular family. She explained that it has been impossible for her to talk to this family. We asked why it was so. She said a lot was being said about the daughter in law of the family so she believed this could be the reason why the family was reluctant to meet with someone who worked in an HIV/AIDS program. She said she had heard through rumors that the daughter in law was once a sex worker and had been married to several men before marrying into this family. After getting married to the son of the family the man became sick and later he died. Most villagers suspected that the wife was infected with HIV, she firmly denied it, but because of their suspicions people in the village discriminated against the family.
Through door-to-door education and mobilization the awareness of many people in Butuo County has increased, which also helps to diminish discrimination.
When we visited the village we were lucky to be invited in by the family, particularly the daughter in law. Before we could say anything she told us about her life. First she mentioned that she was infected with HIV and asked if the Field Officer had not heard the rumors which were making rounds in the village, which the Field Officer did not deny. She said the eldest of her children is in the first grade, the second is 4 years old and the youngest is 1 and a half years old. She said most of the people in the village did not want to associate with her family because they all believed she had infected her husband and caused his demise. She also told us that before she married into the current family she had been married to several men. When we asked if the children were also infected she said she was not sure.
The project team discusses challenges and solutions during one of the Monitoring and Evaluation sessions.
The Field Officer then proceeded to give her HIV/AIDS education and explained more related information. The Field Officer mobilized her so that the children could go for HIV testing. When she accepted the children being tested the Field Officer contacted the local health personnel so as to keep this issue confidential.”
Unfortunately the children were infected with HIV. The grandparents abandoned the woman and her children, which made her feel completely lost.
When the Field Officer heard that the children were also infected she did not give up on the family but continued to support and to educate the woman more on how to avoid re-infection, have a good diet and go for further HIV testing so that if possible she could receive treatment. After further tests the woman was put on antiretroviral treatment. The Field Officer continued to encourage her and to make sure she adhered to her treatment plan. The Field Officer also talked to the village leaders to consider the woman’s situation and that of her children and to assist that they get some government subsidies. Though her life seems miserable from being neglected by her in-laws and also she and her children being HIV positive the support and encouragement she gets from the Field Officer has made her accept her situation and she feels relieved. Now she needs to continue to have hope, live a healthy life, treat all minor illnesses and adhere to her treatment plan.
Field Officers have the heart and passion to reach out to everyone in the village to make sure they all receive the message about HIV/AIDS. It demands a lot of walking and talking and a lot of patience.
It is important that the Field Officers continue to seek and help such people for them to regain confidence in society and live normal lives like any other person. Many people in Butuo now understand the importance of speaking out and participating in HIV/AIDS programs organized by the project. People in Butuo have also gained confidence and they can talk more openly about sex and HIV related issues. Some have improved their health after being introduced to antiretroviral treatment and they continue to work together in smaller groups in support of those infected and affected.
To reach out to many people the Field Officers also often organize group trainings where they inform about HIV/AIDS.
Brief summary of the project:
TCE Butuo is a 3.5 years HIV/AIDS project operating in Butuo County, Liangshan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. The idea of the project during the 3.5 years campaign is to achieve total control of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Butuo County, reaching out to a population of 100 000 people. The project does one on one, door to door visits to all villagers reaching out to them with health education, mobilization and voluntary home based testing. The project furthermore involves a Passionate Network and training of local leaders and influential people who support in information dissemination and mobilization work. Health education provided by the project includes HIV/AIDS knowledge, basic knowledge about STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), mobilizing pregnant women for antenatal care and hospital delivery, providing condoms and explaining condom use to the sexually active singles and couples.
This project is funded by EU and HPP Baltic.
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the Butuo Women Federation TCE Project and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.