In 2017, The Jubilee Hope Programme established 'HIV support groups' for women who regularly suffer from discrimination, violence and increased poverty on the islands of Lake Victoria. These groups empower women in many ways, including education, orientation and access to small microloans.
Jubilee Hope’s HIV Services Coordinator, Ronald Kebaso Onsoti, has sent an update on the great progress being made with the Support Groups for women on the islands:
“Overall we have a total of 15 post-test groups across the larger Ikuza, Mazinga, Bumbire, Kerebe and Goziba islands with a total of 339 women.
Out of the 15 groups, we have managed to support 7 groups with the financial support from the program as well as microeconomic development training. We have also offered training on ‘living positively’ (i.e. living with the HIV virus) to 11 of the 15 groups.
Each group is registered with the local leadership of the island and has their own governing constitution and leaders they elect on their own. We have appointed coordinators on each island to keep the groups linked among themselves and with the Jubilee Hope Programme.
The Jubilee Hope Programme hope gives the financial seed to the groups but not individuals in the group. It is the group together that agree on how to distribute the funds amongst themselves. The women borrow the money, invest it, make some profit and repay it in small bits to the group for the next person to borrow.
In monitoring the performances of individual women and groups, our coordinators work with group leaders and local government officials to ensure all laid down rules are followed. These coordinators report to us on a monthly basis or whenever necessary.
The response from the women has been extremely positive. For those who have been supported financially they have been able to start some small businesses like buying and selling fish, sardines, fresh foods, eating places and grocery shops. Some have started keeping chicken, ducks and goats. We have encouraged them to start small and grow steadily.
There have also been some challenges but nothing beyond our ability to manage. They include a large number of women in need of financial support. So far the program has maintained a step by step approach to ensure we don’t give out funds to those who will not be committed to the process.
I wish to acknowledge the role played by the group leaders and the islands coordinators in carrying out our mandate with the post test groups. I also wish to appreciate the link that has been established between the post test clubs and the medical ship. Special appreciation also goes to the volunteers who have reached out to these groups with kind words, words of encouragement and even a hug that gives hope to these women.”
You can support the work amongst the women on the islands by donating via the following page: https://www.vinetrust.org/fundraising/page/jubilee-hope-hiv-support-groups-2017