Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nominate your PEPFAR Zambia hero

By Meluse Kapatamoyo
The United States Presidents Emergency  Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) this year celebrates 10 years of tackling HIV in Zambia by celebrating heroes in the fight against the disease.

According to a statement from PEPFAR's Development Outreach and Communications Specialist, Kathryn Koonce, heroes do not need to be associated with PEPFAR-Funded programs.

"We would like to honour those who made small and large contributions to creating an AIDS-free generation in Zambia. Tell us about someone who cares tirelessly for orphans, or someone who endured stigma and discrimination to encourage others to test for HIV and obtain anti-retroviral treatment (ART), or someone who has not stopped leading by example in Zambia’s fight against HIV for the past 10 years.  Or someone who has done something else to end this scourge, " she explained.


PEPFAR will then select 12 heroes to honor by giving a cash prize to the community that supports each winner such as a chiefdom, an orphanage or a clinic.  In addition, three heroes will be selected to travel to Lusaka for a World AIDS Day event in December 2013.


To nominate your PEPFAR Zambia Hero, submit a written explanation of why the nominee is your hero.  The deadline is October 15, 2013


Send your nomination by email to PEPFARZambia@state.gov or by mail to PEPFAR Coordination Office, RE: PEPFAR Hero Award, American Embassy, Ibex Hill, P.O. Box 31617, Lusaka, Zambia.  Include specific information about your hero’s work, success, and relevant background information.  Please also include a photo of your PEPFAR Zambia Hero and photos that demonstrate the impact your nominee has made in the fight against HIV in Zambia.
For your inspiration, PEPFAR Zambia Country Coordinator Kristie Mikus gave the following as examples of heroes the organisation is looking.
"Elizabeth has been living with HIV for 20 years. Through the PEPFAR-supported organization Needs Care, she visits people’s homes in the N’gombe Compound in Lusaka to identify their needs and then links them to available resources.
Recently Elizabeth visited the home of an extremely ill woman.  The woman’s legs were severely swollen and covered with sores.  She was tested for HIV, but she denied the results.  With compassion, Elizabeth told the woman about her own experience living with HIV.  By the end of the visit, the woman agreed to test for HIV again.  The result of the HIV test was positive, but this time the woman accepted the results.  Today she is receiving counseling and HIV treatment, thanks to Elizabeth’s care and support.
Glenda was pregnant and walked five kilometers to the local clinic in Nalube to receive prenatal services. During her first visit, she tested positive for HIV.  Glenda was referred to an ART clinic 20KM from her home, but she could not afford to travel there.
Glenda enrolled in a PEPFAR-funded mobile program closer to her home.  There, she received HIV treatment during her pregnancy to prevent transmission of the virus to her baby.  Thanks to ART, Glenda gave birth to a healthy boy.  Glenda’s son continued treatment for six weeks after his birth and was breastfed until he was 18 months old, never contracting the HIV virus along the way." PYM

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wear it Pink for Cancer

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

You have got to love my line of work - meeting with amazing people, everyday. Each day, I am assured of talking to a stranger. Some I never get to see again, others become friends, mentors, comforters and heroes.

ZCS Executive Director Udie Soko
Udie Soko, is one of those strangers that has now become my hero. She is a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer survivor and Zambian Cancer Society (ZCS) Executive Director. I met Udie through a friend and colleague, Christine Ngwisha, who invited me to a meeting that was being hosted by ZCS.
As I listened to Udie share her experience with cancer that day, my mind drifted to Susan Musukuma and Maureen Lewanika, two very strong women that lost their lives to Cervical and Breast cancer respectively. So, I have some idea of the damage the disease causes when it manifests in the body, regardless of what type of cancer it is. 
For a moment I was drowning in sadness, but when I looked at Udie, she spoke with so much enthusiasm about her life now; her struggles; and her triumphs with Hodgkin’s lymphoma which surfaced 24 years ago. She got my attention even more when she spoke about the work that ZCS is involved in. I knew right then that this was not a woman who should be pitied but celebrated. Since then I have been a fan of Udie and I have made it my mission to follow up on ZCS activities.

Despite the fact that Udie has survived cancer, she is my hero amidst her health struggles she is determined to ensure that no other person goes through what she has and that if unfortunately they do, she is right there to give moral and financial support through ZCS.

On September 7, 2013, the Zambian Cancer Society organised 'Cancer Relay for Life' which I and my family proudly attended at Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC). Being in the midst of so many people who had lost their loved ones to different forms of cancer as well as meeting survivors renewed my determination to contribute to the causes being championed by ZCS.

The great causes include the distribution of pamphlets and talks on different forms of cancer with emphasis on Cervical, Breast and Children’s cancers; Making regular donations to the Children’s Cancer ward at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

This October, ZCS will be holding various awareness activities starting with the Pink Golf tournament on Sunday October 6, 2013 to be graced by Zambia’s first lady, Dr Christine Kaseba.

But if you are not a fan of golf like me, then you too will be particularly excited with the activities that will take place at Mandahill on Saturdays of 19 and 26 October. According to ZCS, in support of their activities, the mall will literally be painted pink.

October 19 is dubbed ‘Cancer Awareness Day.’ Manda Hill Shopping Mall has already printed brochures which will be distributed to the public by ZCS members. In addition, booths will be set up where those interested can chat with experts and survivors to better understand the importance of early detection and available options. The focus will be on Breast, Cervical and Children’s Cancers.

There are also various prizes to be won, all donated by Mandahill Mall tenants. Large boxes will be stationed throughout the mall for donations of books, toys, sweets and clothes for the Children’s Cancer Ward at UTH.

ZCS, through a medical officer, will provide Mandahill female tenants with a talk on breast and cervical cancer at the Mr Price Store.

On October 26, which is ‘Wear it Pink’ Cancer fundraising and Awareness Day at the mall, all Mandahill fashion stores will dress their windows in pink. On that day, members of the public are encouraged to wear pink as they go to the mall. 

In honour of those that have survived cancer like Udie, those that lost their battle to cancer, those still fighting, and those just finding out they have the disease, let us show our support and let us make these events a success.

Make sure you bring your families as there will be lots of fun things to do - from getting temporary tattoos to having your hair sprayed pink in support of cancer awareness.  And to spice it all up, the lively Barefeet Theatre group will offer entertainment. PYM.