30 vulnerable women from Tombo Village and its environs over the weekend received their certificates including start up kits and seed money, to embark on self reliance projects in their respective communities, after completing six weeks of training at the Lumtubum skills training center in Tombo.
The skills training program was organized by the Society for Women and Aids in Africa Sierra Leone Chapter (SWAASL) in collaboration with their funding partners Global Fund for Aids that focuses on vulnerable women who need empowerment to control and prevent the spread of HIV/ AIDS in Sierra Leone.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony Sister Monica Green of the Marie Stopes Society who chaired the program expressed thanks and appreciation to SWAASL, the funding agency Global Fund for Aids and the trainees for completing 6 weeks of skills training in Gara tie dying, Batik, and soap making.
She highlighted the role of women in fighting to alleviate hunger and poverty which is a recipe to get infected with HIV/ AIDS; she noted that it was against this backdrop that SWAASL deemed it fit, to identify with the vulnerable women of Tombo so that they can be empowered with skills to generate income.
Monica Green further examined both the causes of the high infection rates among women and the economic and social burden of the pandemic on women in the home and their communities, she added that the best approach to HIV/AIDS is education, prevention and treatment which she said will help to reduce the infection rates among women.
Programs Director of SWAASL Marie Benjamin noted that HIV/Aids is driven by poverty and growing consumerism, the long-term solution is sustained economic development, with expanded career and educational opportunities for young women.
In the meantime, they are explicitly focusing on education and prevention programmes on the dangers of HIV/ Aids.
Mrs. Benjamin expressed thanks and appreciation to the Global fund for Aids in Africa for the significant role they are playing in providing the much needed funds and expertise on the prevention, control and treatment of the disease in the country particularly for vulnerable women and called on the trainees to make good use of the knowledge gained and implement it accordingly to fight against poverty in their communities.
She noted that they are empowering women to overcome the negative and social effects of HIV /Aids among people living in abject poverty who are vulnerable to gender based violence against women, including rape, enforced marriages and the economic dependency of women on men entrenched by gender inequality and gender injustice.
Marie Benjamin maintained that access to care and treatment services, protection from violence and building the capacity of vulnerable women, and partnering for the distribution of anti-viral foams and condoms are part of the organization major activities in the country.
Margaret James of SWAASL properly explained about their activities in the country and further spoke about the historical background of the organization which started with the International Aids Society that established the Sierra Leone chapter since 1988, as they can now boast of regional offices as far as Kailahun targeting vulnerable women at the border and other vulnerable communities in the country.
The Community Development Head Foday Kamara, Mrs. Lucinda E. Orielly of Tombo Radio and Chernor Sesay of the same community commended SWAASL for training the grandaunds and appealed for future training of trainers program that will help more women in the area, Distribution of certificates, start up kits and seed money formed a high point of the graduation ceremony.
By Saidu Bah