July 03, 2006, —
Mamata Camara is 30 years old and has two young children. She found out two years ago she was HIV-positive, when she took a voluntary HIV test after her husband died from AIDS.
Mamata lost all hope after finding out she was HIV-positive. Even with the assistance of her parents and her in-laws, she wasn't able to cope. Her health started deteriorating and she lost a lot of weight.
However, since Mamata became a beneficiary of the nutritional support project for people living with HIV and AIDS managed by Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Guinea, her medical and nutritional situation has improved considerably.
"I've put on a lot of weight," Mamata said proudly. "The project faciliators give me nutritional advice, which I follow. With the rations I receive, I can prepare food for myself and my children. In the past this was not possible, as the price of rice was too high for me and I was not even able to cover the basic food needs of my family. Now everyone congratulates me on my new healthy condition."
Mamata also thinks the project is doing a good job of addressing the shame and disapproval HIV-positive people face in Guinea. The project does everything it can to respect the confidentiality of the beneficiaries. "This helps us to accept our situation and allow us to start talking about our illness, first to our family and friends and later to the whole community, so that they become aware of the reality of HIV and AIDS. Today, we are beginning to realize that we are not alone — that people think of us and our difficulties." She adds, "This gives us hope for the future."