April 27, 2015
By Simon Chambers
Living with HIV can be hard at the best of times. For farmers living in Mozambique, the disease can make life almost impossible. Farmers have to be out in the fields every day, especially during sowing and harvesting seasons, and being bed-ridden with AIDS can make that impossible. Missing those critical days of planting or harvesting can result in a farmer’s family not having enough to eat and sinking further into poverty.
A group of HIV positive farmers supported by PWRDF partner Association of Community Health (EHALE) has started working as a collective to grow peanuts together. PWRDF and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) have provided funding to EHALE, which in turn provides peanut seeds, watering cans, hoes, and training to the farmers.
Some of these farmers were recipients of food baskets through the Fred Says “Have you Eaten Today” initiative, providing them with the nutrition they needed while taking their anti-retroviral drugs so that their bodies could produce enough white blood cells to fight off infections and to be healthy enough to farm again most of the time.
Each of the farmers understands that their colleagues are also living with HIV, and may not be able to come to work due to their illness some days. As a community they work together to ensure that their fields are cared for, and that the harvest is shared among them equally. They support each other through the difficult days, and work together on the good ones.
Working together, the farmers have grown much more than peanuts to fuel their bodies and provide income for their families. Their harvest also includes a sense of pride, solidarity and achievement. The farmers have a sense now that they will always be able to have food for their families.