Inspiring Women to Face HIV with Optimism

Warned that she was ill, we expected to find 50-year-old Salome Kombe in bed and ready to die. Though she is among an older demographic of HIV-infected Tanzanians, Salome is by no means retiring. Surprisingly, she walked to greet us, looking happy and strong. HIV-positive and living in a one-room shack, Salome is unemployed and struggles to care for three grandchildren; ensuring they have enough food is a daily effort. Her neighbors and family offer some support, but are equally poor. As Salome battled constant illness, her situation strained not only her family, but also her neighbors and friends.

[Salome's goat has given her hope. Photo by Carmen C. Urdaneta.]Salome's goat has given her hope. Photo by Carmen C. Urdaneta.

In December 2003, Salome's family became one of 50 families in this rural community to participate in a livestock training course. As recognition for having successfully completed the training, Salome received a goat. Through a grant provided by the Rapid Funding Envelope (RFE), established by the Tanzanian Commission for HIV/AIDS and eight international donors1with support from MSH's Management & Leadership Program and Deloitte & Touche, Heifer International established this pilot project to train HIV afflicted families to care for goats, who in turn provide milk, income from selling offspring and food from gardens-all aimed at improving families' nutritional status. Further, families like Salome's work with neighbors to form goat rearing clusters. As they share the responsibilities involved in rearing goats, they also prepare financially for the futures of their children and grandchildren. For Salome, the goat has given her hope; she is proud of her new skills and feels stronger and healthier as she wakes up each morning with a sense of purpose. Unlike before, Salome thinks of her future; she has already set aside compost to plant a garden and plans to pass her goat rearing skills on to her children. As one of her neighbors, an HIV-positive woman also participating in the program, summarized: "[We] are now living in hope and much better than before."

1The RFE is a multi-donor partnerships supported by: Canadian International Development Agency, Embassy of Finland, Ireland Aid, Royal Danish Embassy, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Swiss Agency for Development and