utu 2014 project:
This year some 2000 children and adults attended our Learn & Live AIDS film screenings. That brings the total of those we've reached with these life-saving films to over 37,000.
Suti, Sanga, Mtawa, Thotomsinje …. these are all most likely places you’ve never heard of, yet these are places you have touched. These lakeshore villages and many more are where utu’s Project 2012 was able to reach and perform vital HIV testing in combination with “Learn & Live” video presentations to over 2,000 attendees. While the number may not seem large, one must consider the remoteness of the region. Many of these villages have a few hundred inpopulation and are accessible only by water or a 5-hour hike to the nearest town. When faced with the decision of fish/farm to feed your family or hike for an HIV test, most opt to forgo the test. This is the beauty of our program; we offer this free service and education in a way that can be utilized. An audience may start with a few and end with 200 by night’s end. Unfortunately we did find some tested HIV positive…fortunately we did find these before a single case spreads through the village. Now these individuals can protect themselves and their community as well as receive appropriateavailable treatment as needed.
utu provided the fuel, transportation and per diem for two trained tester/counselors and the program coordinator from our collaborating on-the-ground community development partner organization, TEMWA. Accessing fuel and a sturdy vehicle for the poor road conditions can be challenging; by the time the 2012 Project was complete, we were on vehicle #3 and our lake travel was cut short with a minor boat mishap leaving the boat out of commission. Despite these slight set-backs and less funding than in past years, our project was incredibly successful.
This time of year, there are not many tourists in Malawi and you will mostly run into volunteers and staff of other NGOs. I have met many inspiring individuals. However it never fails to amaze me when we compare budgets and programs; with utu’s commitment of not using funds for airfare, lodging/food, other personal expenses or overhead, our funds are then able to be used directly for equipment, materials, in-country transportation, and other direct costs of hosting the presentations and testing services.
This year I want to extend a special thank you to our donors, all of this would not be possible without teamwork. It starts with You and then the line-up of the staff of utu, TEMWA and the Nakata Bay counselors.
I’ll close with a neat example of how a small gesture can make a huge difference. I met Mathews Mvula on the streets of Mzuzu; he sells plastic bags to shoppers of the market. Unlike here where the bags are free, the bags sell in Malawi for 20 kwacha (.07 cents). Mathews was using rubber gloves to protect his hands as he dragged his legs behind on his way to his spot of business on the sidewalk. For 27 of his 32 years; this is how he made his way. He hires a bicycle taxi for 200 kwacha to transport him the 2km to and from home. For a very small amount of money, utu had a special hand pedaled bicycle made and delivered to Mathews, eliminating the taxi expense, providing safe mobility and leveling the playing field somewhat. I think his smile says it all.
utu 2010 project: building a school in usisya, malawi and screening 'learn & live' films
TEMWA's objective is to help build a sustainable future for the people of Malawi through community-based projects and their goals are kindred to those of utu. Read on
utu in action: Making a Difference in 2009
utu works with local communities and partner organizations to offer HIV/AIDS prevention education and to invest in projects that improve conditions for children impacted by the AIDS pandemic.
utu believes that by working together, we can halt the spread of AIDS and improve the lives of children.
LEARN & LIVE PRESENTATIONS
utu visits rural schools and offers HIV/AIDS prevention education through 'Learn and Live' events. The central focus of these events is the screening of HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention films provided by organizations such as WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Street Kids Int'l and others.
These free screenings are central to our fight against the AIDS pandemic and we've consistently received extremely positive feedback from the students and adults who have participated in the past.
In conjunction with the 'Learn and Live' presentations, utu distributed over 18,000 donated math and science textbooks to 57 rural schools with severely limited resources.
We believe that AIDS education alone will not save lives if poverty is rampant, therefore we invest in projects that provide opportunities for children. This year, we replaced a condemned stick and mud classroom at Owedegi School.