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.
"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