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Income generation grant gives mother living with HIV a new lease on life

© UNICEF/2009/Sweeting
Adele works in her cassava field in northern Cameroon.

By Salma Zulfiqar and John Nkuo

NORTHERN CAMEROON, 1 December 2009 - Adele’s daughter lays buried in a grave in Adele’s garden in northern Cameroon. She was the second member of the family that Adele lost to HIV/AIDS related illness. The first was her husband, who died seven years ago and left her struggling to support her 10 children with the income she earned planting cassava.

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When Adele found out that she too was living with HIV, she thought her life was over.

But Adele’s life slowly started to improve after receiving assistance from a local UNICEF-supported non-governmental organisation, Femmes Pour Christ. She was given a grant of $100 through an income generation project specifically targeting people living with HIV/AIDS.

“With this financial assistance I have been able to buy more items to sell and to generate more income to feed my family and send my children to school,” Adele says.

‘Now I’m strong’

The income generation grant allowed Adele to plant more crops in the fields and buy stocks of vegetables, spices and nuts to sell in the local market. Adele is now also able to pay for 5 of her children to go to school.

With her market stall she earns on average of $10 a day, which is in addition to the profit she makes from harvesting the cassava plants every 18 months. The increased income has even enabled Adele to buy materials to build her own house. 

“Before we were really suffering, things were not moving and we used to live in a bad situation. But now I’m strong with the help of Femmes Pour Christ,” she says.

Adele also receives regular weekly visits from nurse Yepele Therese Clarisse, who works with Femmes Pour Christ. During a counselling session at home, Yepele supplies Adele with essential vitamins and antibiotics and encourages her to eat a varied and balanced diet, which is vital to strengthening her immune system to fight the HIV virus.

“I feel happy when I see her smiling, looking courageous, and particularly when I notice that she respects the advice I give her,” says Yapele.

Support for a normal life

In Cameroon, over half a million people are known to be living with HIV/AIDS, and tens of thousands of them are children below the age of 15.

© UNICEF/2009/Sweeting
This market in northern Cameroon is where Adele has set up a stall with help from the income generation grant.

The income generation project is currently helping 234 families that support more than 1000 vulnerable children. Grants of up to $300 are provided for activities ranging from selling food items in the market to setting up small timber businesses.

“Thanks to the UNICEF supported project, the people who are affected, infected or who are sick, are now capable of living a normal life,” said Souleymane Kanon, Head of UNICEF Cameroon’s HIV/AIDS Section. “They can work and also be active and productive in their community.”

UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health and the National AIDS Committee to ensure more families like Adele’s are able to continue living a normal and healthy life.




5 November 2009: UNICEF’s Salma Zulfiqar reports on a UNICEF-supported programme that helps generate income for HIV/AIDS-affected families.
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