MASYAP organises 30 women’s support groups. These meet either weekly or fortnightly, and are made up of Muslim women with both positive and negative HIV statuses.
MASYAP runs workshops at each of the women’s groups covering various topics, for example:
- HIV basics– These workshops serve to give the women an overview of HIV: how it is contracted, how to protect against becoming infected, and how HIV can be treated. These workshops are repeated regularly to maintain a good base level of knowledge in the groups.
- Home-based care– Home-based care workshops are run to advise support group members on how to care for themselves and infected relatives within their homes; for example they are instructed on how to correctly take or administer anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), and distributed basic medical kits to assist with home care.
- PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission)– PMTCT is crucial to stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS, helping save children from being born with the burdens of the disease. Many children born with HIV become AIDS orphans and do not survive beyond childhood. PMTCT workshops provide members with information on the risks of HIV transmission in pregnancy and how to minimize the risks of passing HIV to the child.
- Nutrition– These workshops advise women on how to maintain a healthy, balanced diet within their budgets in order to keep themselves and their families healthy and increase ARV effectiveness.
- Stigma and discrimination– There is still a huge stigma concerning those infected with HIV and these workshops are focused on reducing the misinformation surrounding HIV/AIDS and those infected with it, in order to reduce the taboo around the subject.
Where funds permit, MASYAP provides food hampers to vulnerable members. These help those on ARVs maintain a nutritious diet which helps to sustain their immune system and thus optimise the effectiveness of the ARVs. This programme is currently sponsored by Road to Relief, a Blantyre-based women’s led charity and Transglobe Produce Exports, a Blantyre-based commodities business. We have also run an orphan support programme to provide basic food needs and pay the school fees of orphans deemed highly vulnerable by their communities.
Where possible MASYAP aims to provide a condolence package of MK15,000 equivalent to around $26 to the families of MAYSAP members who have passed away.