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News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 10 Winter 2009

Ndandas community spirit

Most of us dont get much nearer to Africas problems than Comic Relief or the latest attention grabbing news clip about poverty, disease or conflict. That said, there is growing minority who decide to do something to help, whether donating, fund-raising or getting directly involved on the ground, like Woodbridge resident Diane Milan with the Tanzania HIV AIDS Project. Using a combination of slides and personal narrative, Diane provided a packed audience at St Marys House with latest news of an initiative which for her began in October 2006 after completing a VSO development course.

Based around the St Benedictine Community and hospital of Ndanda, serving southern central Tanzania, the aim, Diane said, was "the care and prevention of HIV/AIDS, supported by community volunteers." Rather than handouts and short-term fixes, she described a practical approach to fostering self-help and community spirit among those living on the front line of a ravaging disease. tanzanian mother and child Key to long-term success has been the training of 90 volunteers who, sporting the T-shirt to trumpet their fast track qualification, were enabled to assist with palliative care and outreach in the villages.

Supporting them in every way is the St Benedictine Community, founded in 1906. The mission includes the 300-bed St Benedictine Hospital, which provides training and medical support for the project, treats AIDS and all manner of other conditions, and works tirelessly to promote uzima or "health and well being". The pragmatism of those involved, Diane explained, extended from the distribution of condoms to promote safe sex to daily co-operation between local Christian and Islamic religious leaders. In what is a reasonably stable East African country about four times the size of Britain, working in partnership to change long-term behaviour remains a central focus.

While the Tanzania HIV AIDS Project has so far survived with funding from a variety of sources, ongoing support and donations are always welcome.

Contact Diane Milan on 01394 387147 or diane@milan.plus.com