Since 2007 the Irish Aid programme in Mozambique has been supporting community-based organisations working on a home-based care project in Inhambane province. These organisations provide much needed support and care to people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Home-based care saves lives and improves quality of life through providing physical and emotional care to the most vulnerable. Volunteers support people with their anti-retroviral drugs treatment plans. They provide advice and guidance on nutrition and monitor and record progress. They also support families and the wider community holding information and awareness raising sessions. The project has been instrumental in increasing the number of people referred to health units, as well as increasing the numbers receiving and continuing antiretroviral treatment. Their outreach work has helped to reduce the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS leading to greater levels of acceptance within communities.
These organisations are primarily based in rural areas with limited or no public transport. Volunteers normally attend to a number of patients spread over a large area, often having to walk significant distances to reach patients. This not only places a toll on volunteers physically, it also limits the number of people they can assist and impacts on their own personal lives. Following an assessment and consultations with each organization it was decided that bicycles would greatly improve volunteers’ ability to reach patients in a time efficient manner.
As part of Irish Aid’s support to the organisations, 375 bicycles were sourced from Mozambikes, a local producer, who tailor-made the bicycles for the CBOs. All the bicycles have now been distributed. Volunteers warmly welcomed the delivery, for many it was the first time that they had access to a bicycle and lessons and tips were eagerly shared to help everyone to master the art of bicycle riding. Feedback has been positive with reports that the bicycles have eased the burden on volunteers. Irish Aid continues to support activities of these organisations in Inhambane.