Zaina Muhamed (in the middle) is showing the soap made
Photo: ActionAid Tanzania
Despite having a prevalence rate of less than 1% (0.9%) within a population of 1.2 million people in Zanzibar, HIV/AIDS has been described as among one of the developmental challenges affecting all levels of societies. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has the greatest impact on women, children and youth who are the most economically productive age group of society.
In 2007, ActionAid partnered with the Zanzibar Association of the People living with HIV/AIDS (ZAPHA+) in providing entrepreneurship skills. 20 members were trained on how to make soap; they went on exposure visits, and participated in international trade fares. Now, both members and non-members of ZAPHA+ are self-employed and can provide basic needs for their families.
“Before I joined ZAPHA+ life was very difficulty. It was hard to get even a bus fare to attend regular meetings at the office. I struggled to support my family. And at times I was unable to find food to feed my children. In 2007 I was one of the beneficiaries of the soap making training organized and supported by ActionAid. I managed to establish my own project. I was trained to make soap using on clove and lemon grass. Now I can even make Aloe Vera and cinnamon scented soaps. I can now feed my children, buy them uniforms and pay their school fees. And most importantly I can now afford a balanced diet which is required for my health,” commented John Kissanga (50) from ZAPHA+.
To support its 1,600members, ZAPHA+ went on to buy a soap making machine, which has grown to operate as a mini-factory, improving both the quantity and quality of soaps being made.
“It is true that machines work faster than people. Making soap manually consumes a lot of time and produces soap of poor quality. For example, we usually use five hours a day to make only 150 pieces of soaps. With the machine, we expect to make more than 2000 pieces of soap in three hours. And it is our great hope that this will increase our income as we will manage to sell as much more soap as possible,” Zaina Muhamed, 47, a woman living with HIV/AIDS.
ZAPHA+ members were also supported with a sardines and vegetable project. This has led to an increased interactions of communities with people living with HIV (PLHIV) and a change in negative perceptions and social stigma.