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©VSO/Ginny Lattul

Dignity and increased income for people affected by HIV

Helping widows lead positive lives in Mozambique

Rute Manave, widow in Mozambique | VSO ©VSO/Ginny Lattul

"I was falling sick all the time while my husband was in hospital. After he died, my neighbours encouraged me to get tested, and the result was positive for HIV"

Rute Manave, HIV and AIDS widow

Seven months pregnant and with six children to feed, Rute Manave felt overwhelmed when her husband died after returning from working in the mines of South Africa. Things got worse still years later when she discovered she too had HIV.

Dignity and increased income for people affected by HIV

Thankfull, Rute has received training in income-generating activities through AMIMO, a VSO-supported project that works with migrant miners and their families, who are particularly vulnerable to HIV. We're supporting AMIMO to help its members access their rights to health and HIV services, and to increase the income of widows and families who have been widowed and orphaned by HIV and AIDS.

Through the support of VSO and its volunteers on this project:

  • HIV prevention and care projects have been launched in the most vulnerable communities
  • Supported widows, most of them HIV+ and stigmatised, to set up small businesses to help them escape poverty

VSO provided some initial capital to help widows like Rute to set up mobile phone and airtime businesses, which provided them with the ability to meet basic household needs such as food, medicine, and school fees.

"Life has changed"

Smiling woman in Mozambique ©VSO/Ginny Lattul

"Even some of the women who have a man at home can’t achieve some of the things that we widows have been able to achieve"

With the training and support Rute has received, she's been able to set up a barraca [small shop] selling snacks and airtime. It provides a steady stream of cash, and is manageable even when Rute encounters helath difficulties.

She's even been able to re-invest her profits to buy a freezer and a computer, and can afford to buy the food she wants to feed her family. And she's just one of the women benefitting from the POPA project.

Reaching thousands

A corporate partnership with mCel, a Mozambican mobile phone company that has lent employee mentors and contribution of phones, airtime, and marketing materials, allowed us to expand the project far beyond our original pilot of 30 women.

Over its lifetime, we expect POPA to support well over a thousand women through such economic empowerment schemes. More than half the women supported are also trained as HIV and AIDS caregivers and community outreach workers, each supporting ten households, including their own.

In this way, we are on track to reach vulnerable 15,000 people with HIV and AIDS care as well as prevention messages and information.

Support our work

Please consider making a donation, or joining us as a volunteer or partner to help us reach more people affected by HIV and AIDS, like Rute.