Tilla Association of women Living with HIV
Tilla Association of Women Living with HIV was established by women living with HIV/AIDS on April 2002 with the main objectives of reducing and mitigating the all rounded impact of AIDS on women. The Association is a local NGO operating in the Southern Region mainly in Wolaita, Sidama, Gedio and Kembata-Timbaro Zones and Alaba Special Woreda. "Tilla" meaning umbrella/shelter promotes awareness and change of attitudes towards HIV/AIDS by integrating education and advocacy works and promotion of positive living.
The association has more than 100 members who are committed to educate the public by disclosing their sero-status to the community and using their real life testimonies. The education and advocacy works include mobilization of women to protect themselves from unsafe sex practices, advance gender based HIV/AIDS interventions, outreach rural women with HIV/AIDS information. Tilla primarily focuses on women as they are exposed to different harmful traditional practices (such as circumcisions, early marriage, abduction, abortions, etc). In addition, due to different social and biological reasons women are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS than men.
Tilla's mission is to promote awareness and change of attitudes towards HIV/AIDS by integrating education and advocacy works while contributing its parts in the prevention and control activities of HIV/AIDS. Tilla also advocate for the respect of human rights and promotion of positive living.
- To reduce the vulnerability of women to HIV/AIDS.
- To mitigate the adverse socio-economic situation of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
- To prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS thru information dissemination.
- To increase the involvement of women in the prevention and control activities of HIV/AIDS.
- To significantly contribute to the eradication of stigma and discrimination towards PLWHAs.
- To advocate for the human rights of PLWHAs.
- To expand the association services to other areas of the country (opening branch offices).
- Advocacy and provision of legal support for members
- Sensitizing the community
- Capacity Building of Tilla members and other PLWHAs
- Production of IEC materials
- Conduct workshops/seminars and panel discussion focusing on women and HIV/AIDS
- Networking of NGOs, GOs and parent association
- Skill training for WLWHs (sewing and embroidering)
- Care and support (social support and medical support)
- Home Based Care services
- Counseling services
- Women Living with HIV
- In school and out of school youths
- House servants
- Religious leaders
- Commercial sex workers
- Community Based Organizations (CBOs) such as Iddirs and religious institutions.
- Influential community leaders, and
- Other vulnerable groups
- Capacity Building: A 5-year strategic plan has been developed in collaboration with Action Aid Ethiopia and consultant. Strong support obtained from various agencies such as: Action Aid Ethiopia, Pathfinder International-Ethiopia and Regional HAPCO. Partnership is also being developed with CHF International-America, Goal Ethiopia and others. Trainings were provided to members on topics such as: existing situation of HIV/AIDS, positive living, gender theories and practice, gender and sexuality, gender and HIV/AIDS, stigma, discrimination and human right, etc.
- Strong networking with other organization working on HIV/AIDS.
- Material Production posters, brochures, stickers and monthly newsletter.
- Community panel/focus group discussions conducted on various topics.
Challenges and problems
Members of the association had faced stigma and discrimination because of their sero status. Women are less likely to disclose their status to their partners because for fear of being abandoned. Moreover, they lack adequate counseling and support for drug adherence and protected sex. The delay of delivery and expense of the drugs are few of the major problems for members who are under treatment and taking ARV drugs. The Association has faced problems to provide support for orphans. Due to low capacity to provide care and support services for PLWHAs there is a fear when members are going to AIDS stages. Moreover, the health conditions of members create problems in community sensitization activities. The association has also faces financial constraints to achieve its long-term objective.
Widespread poverty situation specially manifested by unemployment is discouraging efforts made by HIV/AIDS interventions. Due to poor economy, women living with HIV have no access to ARV and other medicines and nutritional support.
Still there is widespread stigma and discrimination among community groups; denial remains to be one of the challenges on the part of HIV positive persons to bring about behavioral change. Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS into social sectors is lacking and many of the social sectors are missing their workforces through ignorance and lack of effective leadership.
Most of the legal support activities concerning HIV/AIDS and human rights do not yet reach the grassroot level; only few people in the towns have a slight knowledge about the rights of PLWHAs. In this regards, much work should be done in order to bring changes in the community.
The absence of VCT centers in the rural areas of the region limits the number of people accessing VCT services.
The community awareness-raising program should be continued in a more coordinated way. It has been considered that the educational level of most of the association members is low and this has created some problem in conducting community sensitization program. Hence, efforts should be made to improve the capacity of Tilla members and assess educated positive people to be member of the association. Most of the members are very poor and they are members of the association mainly because of some of the material benefits. Hence, it needs to change this habit by amending the membership requirement. The association faced financial constraint to implement some activities and administrative costs. It was noted that NGOs and GOs are very cooperative and interested to work with the association. Tilla is currently implementing its entire project with the financial support from funding agencies. However, this has a negative effective on the sustainability of the association. In this regard, the association should mobilize the community for the sustainability of the project.
Capacity Gap of Tilla
Requests are received from various part of the region to open branch offices. However, due to low capacity of the Association it has been unable to extend its services. The association has no capacity to provide care and support services when members are going to AIDS stage; which is one of the main challenges of Tilla. Most Tilla membersï¿½ educational level is low. This has affected Tilla's efforts towards stopping the. Hence, efforts should make better-educated people for HIV test and for membership of the association. Problems in provision of medical care, accessing additional funding source to fill the association needs and gaps.
Tilla wants to see itself as a nation-wide developmental NGO (not just an NGO focusing on HIV/AIDS) dealing with issues of sustainable community development and as a catalyst for the growth and well being of the nation. Tilla plans to create networking with similar organizations and open branch association in Southern Region and other areas in the country. Tilla aims to actively participate in women focused HIV/AIDS and other development programs thus increase its contributions towards the country and regional efforts of fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Tilla Association of Women Living With HIV
Sidama Zone, SNNPR,
Telephone: +251-46-220-6732 or +251-46-220-5974