Antanazio is a warrior, a survivor, and a local hero who saves lives every day.
Antanazio serves as an Expert Client for Partners in Hope, one of Blood:Water’s partner organizations on the ground in Malawi. An Expert Client is a person living with HIV, who is trained to provide others living with HIV community-based care, support, and advocacy against stigma and discrimination.
Antanazio smiled as he shared his story,
“I am Antanazio Debwe. I am 48 years old. I am married, and I have three children and four grandchildren. I was born into a family that had 10 children. I was the seventh-born. We are all alive.”
Can you imagine feeling as if it is necessary to mention “We are all alive” when speaking about your own family? His words are heartbreaking.
“[When] I was diagnosed with HIV, I was very sick. It was not possible for me to walk by myself. I was perpetually in a wheelchair and would use a stick.
“It was very difficult for me to accept. It took some volunteers who were operating in our community to encourage me, and then I accepted and started treatment. Because of this, I feel like I can do the same [as an Expert Client] and help others who are struggling.
“Expert Clients do not become tired; we continue to follow up until [people living with HIV] are helped to accept their results and start treatment. We provide counseling… and it doesn’t end there.”
Our local partners in Africa—like Antanazio and Partners in Hope—have learned how to efficiently fight the spread and stigma of HIV/AIDS in vulnerable communities and treat those who are already affected by the virus.
Fighting HIV/AIDS takes more than just education and medicine, it also takes a whole lot of love. Like Antanazio does, we must love and embrace those who are sick and recognize their dignity as men, women, and children created in the image of God. As he shares,
“I want to tell people out there that an HIV diagnosis is not the end of your world.
“When you’re told that you are HIV-positive, the best you can do is start treatment and be adherent to your medication. And from there you can live like any other person, be productive at your family level, and even at your community level.
“To people who are stigmatized, one thing I can say to them is to not lose heart… they have a future ahead of them.”
We are so thankful for your faithful support of our mission. Your investment is helping to provide long-term, sustainable support for people living with HIV/AIDS. You are helping protect men, women, and children halfway around the world with your gifts. Without the support of individuals like you, people living with HIV/AIDS would be left without access to much-needed treatment and support. For them, it would be akin to fighting without any weapons against a deadly opponent.
Let Antanazio’s words encourage you to take part in our work:
“It’s really important that we take part in saving other people’s lives. We [as Expert Clients] take time to reflect and consider that in one way or another, we are helping people cope with living with HIV. In my work right now, I am taking care of more than 200 people.”
Please continue to pray for Antanazio and the many others living with HIV/AIDS. And as you pray, if you’re led to give a special gift this month, just know that you will personally help protect even more lives and bring permanent solutions to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.
As Antanazio said, “As someone who is alive with HIV, it is very nice to have dreams and goals in life.” Please continue giving and praying so we can offer more individuals the same opportunity.