Tackling AIDS Faraja Center Tanzania

The word faraja is Swahili for 'consolation'. The Faraja Center is located in the town of Singida, Tanzania, a major truck stop on the long dusty route that links the major port, Dar es Salaam, with several of the country's larger towns and with the land-locked countries beyond the western border, especially with Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and western Uganda. Singida has a thriving trade in commercial sex. The latest census puts the population of Singida Region at 1,086,748, of whom 90% live in rural areas.

FARAJA envisions - An empowered community with the ability to cope with HIV/AIDS and its impacts. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of people affected by HIV/AIDS in the community through working in the area of prevention, care and support, and capacity-building, thus fulfilling the words of Jesus: " I have come that they may have life in all its fullness." (John 10:10)

The Faraja Centre works under the auspices of Singida Municipality and covers Singida town and the thirteen adjacent wards. Each ward has two to four villages. The programme targets people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in and around the Singida Municipality. The direct beneficiaries are people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs), orphans and most vulnerable children (MVC), carers, youth, and adults.

The programme has five main components:

  • Voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) plus medical treatment for clients and their families
  • Awareness-raising
  • Home-based care
  • Orphans and vulnerable children and
  • Income-generating activities

The VCT process in Faraja consists of pre-test, post-test and follow-up counselling. HIV counselling is adapted to the needs of the client and can be for individuals, couples, families and children. VCT has been shown to have a role in both HIV prevention and, for people with HIV infection, is an entry point to care. VCT provides people with an opportunity to learn and accept their HIV serostatus in a confidential environment with counselling and referral for ongoing emotional support and medical care. People who have had a positive test at Faraja Centre can benefit from early appropriate medical care and interventions to treat and/or prevent HIV-associated illnesses.

Sister-Doctor Marian Scena (right) told us, "HIV infection brings much personal suffering. It also threatens the Singida community and erodes the progress the country has made in increasing life expectancy, school enrollment and economic productivity. In its programme Faraja includes awareness about how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented through behavioural change. Additionally, by raising awareness among the general population of Singida, Faraja Centre aims to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV (PLHA) face in society. Faraja focuses on people who are doubly disadvantaged by poverty and the stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS."

As part of its home-based care (HBC) programme, Faraja works in partnership with Tunajali. This represents a partnership in care that has many advantages for the PLHA, for the person's family, for the community, and for the health care system. HBC is not only an important mechanism for extending the continuum of care by providing the basic nursing care and treatment necessary for many of the problems that affect PLHAs. It also promotes community awareness of HIV/AIDS, provides powerful examples to motivate behavioural change, decreases the stigma associated with the virus, and enables PLHAs to maintain their family and community roles. HBC is also cost effective. It frees up hospital beds and medical personnel for the acutely ill and thus relieves the burden on the health care system.

In 2009, the support of Faraja Centre allowed 297 children to access education, helping to lay a foundation for their future. Faraja has established ten income-generating activities in Singida town to assist changing the negative attitudes of society towards people living with HIV/AIDS. They will also empower people living with HIV to become economically independent. By mobilizing PLHAs in groups they are able to carry out innovative practical projects, collectively address common concerns, learn from mutual experiences, and increase their income.

Two of our staff trained in Capacitar trauma healing. It is aimed at grassroots people affected by stress, trauma, burnout and compassion fatigue. It looks at societal trauma and human consciousness as well as spiritual practices for healing global pain and awakening compassion.

Download Faraja Centre Annual Report 2009  >>> click here  (2.23 MB pdf)