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Script 81.7

Notes to broadcasters

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In Africa, the tradition is that men leave the home to work and women take care of the home. This mobility of men and their absence from their spouses gives leeway for men to “experiment” with willing women who want to make money. There is a saying that promotes this womanizing habit in men: “A man is a pair of shorts which gets worn out due to traveling, and a woman is a piece of cloth that stays at home.” When a man contracts the HIV virus, in due course he shares the virus with his wife.

While male mobility is a big issue in AIDS infection, the largest group of men who are infected are not migrant workers, but are married or cohabiting and have sexual relations with women other than their regular partners.

This script explores stories of women who are facing problems associated with HIV and AIDS. The question is: who faces the biggest share of the problems that HIV/AIDS brings to the home – the women or the man?

There are many kinds of problems related to HIV/AIDS and many kinds of solutions. For example, some villages have started home-based care for women with AIDS as well as for orphans, as mentioned in this script. Has anyone in your listening area found effective and creative solutions to HIV/AIDS problems? You can adapt this script to your local needs by interviewing people in your listening audience who are working on these issues and hearing about their problems and their solutions.

Script

Theme song up and hold under narrator.

NARRATOR:
How are you today, listeners? As usual I, Mercy Chipeta, am back with your favourite program Mwana Alirenji (“self-sufficiency”) brought to you by The Story Workshop with the support of the European Union.

Theme song up and cross fade into narrator’s speech below.

NARRATOR:
What passes fast without being noticed frightens the hunter. The hunter fears that it may be a lion or a tiger. These are animals that can eat you even though you have your weapons in your hands. When it comes to diseases we all know that HIV/AIDS is killing us. The question now is: do we know that HIV/AIDS is affecting one gender more than it does the other? Today our reporters speak with three women who have their own opinions on this question.

AGNES NBEULE:
I am Agnes Ndeule of Dedza district. I agree that many times it’s us women who face the problems that come with long illnesses like AIDS. For example, I myself have not produced enough food this year because during the rainy season I was busy looking after a sick child. This child was HIV positive. Unfortunately I have not even managed to save his life. My last-born child passed away.

REPORTER:
Where was your husband when you were busy looking after the sick child?

AGNES NBEULE:
We divorced. You know men sometimes are not satisfied with one wife, so he moved away and married another wife. I am alone looking after the two surviving kids.

REPORTER:
Couldn’t you leave the child at home and go to the field?

AGNES NBEULE:
It depends on how serious the sickness is. Many times the child was seriously sick and they would admit him to the hospital for a number of weeks. When he was discharged, I would spend some time out in the fields and go back to the hospital again. It was on and off like that. By the way, in our society when you leave the sick at home alone even with a very good reason, people laugh at you. They say you are tired with your child’s life. Imagine what they would say to you if you found your sick child dead when returning from the field. My other children are too young to look after a child who is sick. It is just difficult.

REPORTER:
Yes, it is really difficult for one person to look after the sick and go to the field at the same time. What are you going to do to survive this year?

AGNES NBEULE:
Right now I have nothing to do really. I will try to do some businesses like selling traditional cakes and cooked cassava. Maybe that will help. The money that I will make will go to buy food.

NARRATOR:
(Pause) This is one of the many problems that women face in the villages. Women shoulder the larger share of the HIV/AIDS problem. Were you aware of this? Our reporter has found another woman who is facing the problems of AIDS.

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
My name is Mrs. Stayiline Chirwa of Londowala Botha Village in Traditional Authority Siwande in Mzimba district. I went for testing at Tovwirane Centre in 1998 and was diagnosed HIV positive. I am still alive today because of the counselling that they gave me at the centre. We the HIV positive people meet every month at Tovwirane Centre to share problems that we face.

REPORTER:
What made you think of going for testing?

MRS. STAYILINE CHIRWA:
My husband was a truck driver who was often on the road. But he was not just driving the trucks – he was womanizing too. It was after his death that I noticed that I was weaker and was suffering more often. I remembered how my husband had suffered, so I thought of going for testing. At that time Tovwirane had already started offering a testing service with the support of a non-governmental organization called Africare. I went there and I was diagnosed HIV positive.

REPORTER:
How many children do you have?

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
I have four children, two married and two who are single.

REPORTER:
How have you managed to look after these children?

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
It was a problem mainly when I was not aware of my status. At that time my oldest child was younger but still old enough to cook some food and support me in many ways. Food was a problem at my house. My first-born daughter missed school some days so she could help me. Maybe that is why she married at a young age. My parents have been of help to me too. My problems were helped when I tested positive because the Tovwirane Centre started giving me food supplements like soya flour, other foods and some counselling until I recovered again. Now everything is better.

REPORTER:
Now that you know your status, what are you doing to make sure that you have enough food?

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
We people who are positive are advised not to overwork. So I do the work that I can manage in a day and have some time to rest. Whenever I have some money, I invest in small animals like goats that multiply easily. They are my bank account when I am sick because I can sell them quickly. When I have some money, I make sure that I buy fertilizer to maximize the yield of my crops.

REPORTER:
What foods do you like to eat?

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
I eat soya flour porridge in the morning, and whole grain maize flour or msima (maize porridge) with some protein-rich foods. I also eat natural fruits. I was advised to drink orange squash. Because I cannot afford the factory-made squash, I was told how to make homemade squash. That is what I use.

REPORTER:
Do your children know that you are HIV positive?

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
Yes, they know. At first it was difficult for my family to accept that I am HIV positive, especially my mother. My mother knew that the problem could be the result of my husband’s behaviour. Before I got sick, my husband and I had resolved the issues concerning his womanizing.

REPORTER:
What happened?

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
He was still womanizing before he died. But my relatives said that I should have patience with his behaviour because he would change as he grew older. I took their advice and decided to stay because I saw that somehow he still loved me. He was supporting his children very well and taking care of me apart from his bad side of womanizing. (She starts to cry)

REPORTER:
Thank you, madam, for sharing your story with others through this program.

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
(regaining control) Thank you.

Short musical break.

NARRATOR:
That was Mrs. Stayiline Chirwa of Londowala Botha Village in traditional Authority Siwande in Mzimba district, explaining what she went through with HIV/AIDS. There are many more problems that women face because of HIV/AIDS, apart from looking after the children. What else is happening in your area, listeners? (Short pause) Our reporter now speaks to another woman who is experiencing problems related to HIV/AIDS.

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
I am Mrs. Mary Nyakawiro of Lalika Village in Karonga District. I was looking after my daughter who was suffering from this disease HIV/AIDS. She passed away and left her baby with me, and now I am looking after the baby. This disease is no good. Look how old I am and I am looking after my grandchild, a baby that my daughter left with me! She came to me in January when she was very seriously sick and she died in October this year. The baby stopped breastfeeding and I had to find milk for my grandchild.

REPORTER:
How old are you?

MRS. MARY NYAKAWIRO:
I cannot remember when I was born, but when our first president came to Malawi from London I had already married and had a kid.

REPORTER:
You are in your eighties and the baby looks less than a year old! Where is the father of your grandchild?

MRS.STAYILINE CHIRWA:
The father is in Blantyre. When our daughter was sick and expecting, her husband sent her here to be looked after by us. Now I am nursing this child too. I have to buy milk to feed this baby.

REPORTER:
(Pause) Listeners, don’t you think that some of the problems that HIV/AIDS brings to women are passing unnoticed? Or, if you knew about these things, what have you been doing to ease this problem in your village? Let’s listen to what one traditional chief says about this.

CHIEF MPONDA: :
I am Chief Mponda of Sub-traditional Authority Mnyoka in Mchinji District. In our village we have home-based care that supports the sick in their households. We help the families that have a person who is suffering from this disease AIDS.

REPORTER:
What prompted you to start this home-based care?

CHIEF MPONDA:
We have observed that women are the major victims of the disease. What happens is that when the man is sick in town, the wife can look after him until he is well or dead. They stay in the town together if they can afford to. They go back to the village if they can no longer afford town life. But when the woman is sick, usually the husband takes her back to her parents in the village and returns to town alone. It becomes the responsibility of grandmothers who are usually old to look after their grown-up children, who are married but are no longer worthy to their husbands because of sickness. Because of that, we decided to start home-based care and orphan support.

REPORTER:
How do you do it? Do you have a common home where you keep the sick?

CHIEF MPONDA:
The sick people stay in their homes. We give them soap and help look after them. We also help with washing the patients’ clothes. We help the orphans in the same way while they are still with their grandmothers.

NARRATOR:
(Pause) That is what some villages have started doing to ease the pressure on women. What are you doing in your village? Let us not allow these injustices to women because of HIV/AIDS to pass by without being noticed. Do something to relieve our mothers!

Theme song up and hold under narrator.

NARRATOR:
(Pause) Hmmm… AIDS is indeed causing havoc in our homes and communities. But why do those who womanize not use condoms? Why engage in extra-marital sex? Men and women should discuss things with each other. It can only help to discuss vulnerability to HIV, and to engage in mutual testing and reveal the results to each other. This will help ease problems in your family. AIDS is real and affects the innocent partner.

Until next week, I am Mercy Chipeta on behalf of my producer Gladson Makowa, who was also collecting stories in the field. I say that problems shared are problem half-solved. Do something to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS on women.

Theme song up and out.

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Gladson Makowa, The Story Workshop, Blantyre, Malawi.
Reviewed by: Iain McClellan, consultant.

Note: This programme is a combination of two programmes produced by The Story Workshop in Blantyre, Malawi, one that was broadcast in 2005 and another that was broadcast in late 2006.