Mai Aisha Sisters and Youth Programme (MASYAP) is one of the organisations engaged in the fight against HIV and Aids. The groupâ€™s coordinator Sister Jean Mamo talks to JAMES CHIMPWEYA on the organisationâ€™s background and objectives.
Why and how did the group begin?
During the early 1980s when HIV was first recorded in Malawi it was difficult for Muslim women to even talk about the problem. Those who discussed the issue were deemed prostitutes. Owing to this background of silence, we were lagging behind in the fight against HIV and Aids. But then many Muslims women were dying from the disease. The group started in February this year to respond to this situation.
What is MASYAP and what does it do?
MASYAP is the organisation of Mai Aisha Sisters and Youth Aids Programme. It is community-driven and engages in the fight against HIV and Aids. We have 16 support groups within Blantyre. The groups are also known as home-based care centres. We are working with the groups without looking at their religious orientation. Mai Aisha is there only to play an advisory role. Our main task is to teach people the dangers of HIV and Aids as well as its interventions.
How do you help couples in cases where either the wife or husband is HIV positive?
This is where we come in with expertise to assist the couple. We call experts to come and counsel them to use protective measures. At first, it was difficult for men to understand us but now they trust us and are forthcoming in disclosing their status. MASYAP encourages its members to be open to their spouses and discus the disease freely.
How do you help your members who have the virus to improve their immune system?
Those living positively are our priority for assistance. We give them nutritious foods that include Likuni Phala and chiponde.