ESBC support HIV/AIDS initiative in Panguna
HIV/AIDS is still seen as foreign disease in the No Go Zone area of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and more awareness is needed in the area.
This will no be a focus for Pinei Foundation, a new non-government organization that I am involved in.
Pinei Foundation, with support from European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper and Bougainville Regional MP Fidelis Semoso went out on an awareness campaign on HIV/AIDS and other social issues affecting the Pinei River Villages, who are mostly landowners of the lucrative Panguna mine lease area.
We found out that people in the area are still new to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, although they know that such a disease exists.
It was also found that if anybody in the area admits to having the disease, they will be subjected to abuse and people would not want to live with them.
Peoples’ unwillingness to come forward for voluntary testing in Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) sites also makes it impossible to determine the number of people living with the disease in the area, if there are any.
Drinking of home made brew is also a major problem in the area among youths – both male and female – there is complete lack of respect for the chiefs.
Pinei Foundation found out that there is no leadership as village elders are also involved in creating social problems instead of assisting to solve them.
Mothers and children are now having access to basic medical services as local nursing sister; Sister Maggie Clason had started providing medical services at Panguna and also along the Pinei Valley.
Mothers are also being told about safe motherhood and family planning and Sister Clason is encouraging men to attend family planning sessions.
Pinei Foundation also spoke of family planning during our awareness campaign and we also encouraged healthy living in the villages.
One good thing among villagers is that they are willing to listen and if they are told about the dangers of what they do, they start doing what is right.
I have decided that in future, Pinei Foundation would support Sister Maggie Clason and supply her with funding or awareness material that she can pass onto people during her clinic sessions in Panguna and along Pinei Valley.
Because our educational infrastructure is so run down, Pinei Foundation will embark on pressing the Autonomous Bougainville Government to assist in rebuilding classrooms and staff houses at St Therese Sipatako Primary School where most of our children attend.
Pinei Foundation is operated on volunteer basis and most of its activities are done when I am on break.
I will give it more time this year as I have now got a laptop at home which will be used to update my supporters.