Sunday, February 16th, 2014
Daphroza Nyiranzoga, 59, is a single mother of five who lives in Rwanda’s Butaro District. Below is an edited transcript of an interview in which she reflects on her experience with Partners In Health and discusses the importance of community health workers.
I found that I had HIV when I was already pregnant with one of my children. I was so sad when I found out that I was infected, and I was miserable because I thought that my daughter would be born with it, too. But PIH/Rwanda enrolled me into a program that performed miracles. My baby was born without any trace of HIV. To me, this was a miracle.
Before PIH/Rwanda had started in Butaro District, it was almost impossible to get ARVs [antiretroviral therapy,
medication used to treat people living with HIV and AIDS]. When PIH began working with me, the group not only provided for my ARVs, but they assigned me a community health worker who follows up to make sure I take my medication as prescribed and checks my health regularly. Even though I didn’t go to school, my community health worker has taught me a lot about basic health and what I can do to keep my family and I healthy.
PIH/Rwanda didn’t only help manage my HIV, they also healed my hunger. Thanks to PIH donors, I was given two cows, which provide milk and manure that I can sell.
More recently I was enrolled into the Food Security Program, which taught me about the importance of having a kitchen garden and how vital it is to have a healthy, nutritious diet. They gave me various types of vegetable seeds and now we feed on lots of vegetables with my family. My children will never suffer from malnutrition again.
Now that I know the causes of malnutrition, and how to prevent it, I will make sure the people in my community learn from me as well. I won’t let them suffer from malnutrition as I plan on passing on these lessons and sharing my vegetables with people in my village.
I was too weak and had even failed to fend for my family before meeting PIH. If I was only given medication, I would be fine but not healthy and confident. What was very key was the community health worker that PIH assigned me. She follows up on me and my children. She advises us about different health issues, and we are no longer ignorant about how to live healthy. I take my medication as prescribed, eat healthy, and live a stress-free life. I am now living positively and no longer feel sad and hopeless about the future.
Life has never been better.
Pictured: Daphroza Nyiranzoga, 59, and her two daughters, Solange, 7, and Angelique 14. Daphroza has been receiving clinical and social support from PIH/Rwanda, and she credits the work of community health workers for helping link her to a food security program.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Pierre/Partners In Health.