Malawian faith-based organisation scoops prestigious Regional 2016 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights award

Posted by Editor on April 29, 2016

Malawian faith-based organisation scoops prestigious Regional ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights award

– on 28 April 2016, MANERELA+ was awarded the 2016 AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) HIV, TB and Human Rights award at a ceremony held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“The award, established in 2007, aims to recognise and support organisations across southern and east Africa to highlight the ground-breaking work undertaken by organisations to protect human rights, often in extremely challenging political climates”, explained Michaela Clayton, Director of ARASA.

MANERELA+ is a Malawian interfaith and voluntary membership network of religious leaders living with or personally affected by HIV and AIDS, which works to reduce stigma, silence, denial, discrimination, inaction and miss-action (SSDDIM), through the promotion and involvement of the faith community.

Most religious leaders have not fully come to understand their potential role in the era of HIV to fight stigma and discrimination and to ensure access to health care services, especially for marginalised groups. This award will help religious leaders recognise their potential of being role models to advocate for all people living with HIV to be accepted in our communities, including people of all sexual orientations,” said Pastor Mataka, Vice-Chairperson of the MANERELA+ Board.

The vast majority of Malawians prescribe to some religion, and lesbian, gay, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) people are often regarded as being cursed or satanic by communities. MANERELA+ is the only faith-based organisation in Malawi that is advocating for the human rights of LGBTI groups, including repealing of discriminatory laws, in very challenging circumstances.

Champions among religious leaders have been identified and trained to respond to HIV, TB and Human Rights challenges. MANERELA+ has also facilitated the establishment of church and mosque-based HIV support groups in 20 districts of Malawi and has supported them with trainings and referral linkages and has also established peer pressure groups and advocacy committees in the districts to advocate for TB and HIV services to be made accessible to all.

The award ceremony was held on Thursday evening at the conclusion of ARASA’s Annual Partnership Forum, which provides an opportunity for ARASA’s 106 partners to review the status of HIV, TB and human right in the region, and identify emerging human rights challenges for targeted responses in the next year.