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Coping with the grief and loss of AIDS: memory projects bring hope to Africa

Page history last edited by Rosemary 8 years, 6 months ago

Coping with the grief and loss of HIV/AIDS: memory projects bring hope in Africa

The Memory project began in Uganda in 1998 to support children who were facing the prospect of losing their HIV-positive parents. "Children could hear NACWOLA mothers talking on the TV and radio about living with HIV, but their own mothers had said nothing,” explains Anett Biryetega, national coordinator for the National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (NACWOLA).

"The NACWOLA women realised the importance of communicating with children to help them cope with their situation and this formed the basis of the Memory project. Mothers were trained with the skills to communicate about HIV and eventually disclose their positive status to their children. Developing these skills gives families time to talk about all the issues that come with having HIV in the family. It gives children the opportunity to plan ahead; it helps them find ways to cope while their parents are still living." NACWOLA identify mothers who have the potential to train other mothers and in this way communication skills are passed through the community.

Part of this memory work centres on the Memory Book (or what has become known in South Africa, which adapted the idea, as the Memory Box). The book documents important family history and includes photos, stories, souvenirs, and a family tree. “It is used to give children a sense of who they are, and includes details of the support they can receive when they lose a parent."

In South Africa, Jonathan Morgan used the memory book idea in working with women in Soweto. This eventually developed into the Memory Box Project, and then the Memory Action Projects, which includes other forms of working with memory including body mapping. In October 2003, through the Regional Psycho Social Support Initiative, a group of organizations came together to create the Ten Million Memory Project, which hopes to reach at least 10 million children across Africa with memory approaches by 2010.

National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda (NACWOLA), P.O. Box 4485, Kampala. E-mail.


For other stories about children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, see:

African, Canadian grandmothers reach out to help AIDS orphans

Centre brings women together in African slum to care for AIDS orphans

Campaign to educate AIDS orphans in Uganda began with one child's courage

Canadians reach out to help the orphans of Lesotho attend school

Fishmongering brings self-help to HIV-positive people in Homa Bay

Kenya women's network focuses on local food sources to support people living with AIDS

Successful model sustains AIDS orphans by rebuilding villages sustainably


For other stories about practical health care solutions in Africa, see:

Acupuncturists bring healing, relief, local training across the globe

Benin is an ongoing success story in eliminating endemic river blindness

Bicycle ambulance provides practical health care transportation in Africa

Ending slum deadlock to bring health to Mali slums

Grassroots public health initiatives eliminate dreaded guinea worm disease

Innovative South Africa pill reminder idea spreads globally

Motorbike ambulances save lives of mothers, babies, in remote areas of Africa

New therapeutic food is miracle for starving children

Personal Digital Assistants, and open source software, save lives in Africa

Recycled phones and free software revolutionize health care for Malawi hospital

Successful Tanzanian trachoma treatment offers hope for nomadic communities

Using mobile phones to monitor child malnutrition in Malawi wins award for UNICEF

Innovative mentoring program reduces mother to child HIV transmission in Africa


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