Nigeria: In Nigeria, Farm Nourishes PLWHA Support Group (February 2010)


Through a four-hectare farm, the Otabo People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) Support Group is providing members with the nutritional support needed to effectively adhere to antiretroviral treatment.

The farmland, donated three years ago by local Chief Ondoko Ocheibi, enables PLWHA to feed and care for themselves.

"We have seen how HIV has wasted the lives of many people in Akpegede including two of my siblings. So we resolved in my family to help the people living with HIV in our community," says Jeff Ondoko, son of the local Chief. He says his late brother and sister were not as fortunate as one of his younger brothers, Elaigwu, who has access to free antiretroviral drugs and is the farm manager for the Otabo Support Group.

Aaron Alechenu Ali-Abubakar, President of the 200-member support group, began antiretroviral therapy in 2006 with a CD4 count of 180. Today, as a result of treatment and care supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), as well as an adequate diet provided by the farm, his CD4 count has gone up to 650.

"From this farm, we have garri and cassava to eat; fresh leafs from the cassava stems to make soup because we learnt it contains a lot of iron and vitamins," said Ali-Abubakar.

The support group not only provides nutritional support, but also encourages members to take their medications and attend their clinic visits.

The group has also been instrumental to the lives of Aladi Inyanda and her three-year-old son. Aladi was jobless, and the father of her son left them when she revealed her HIV status to him. Through the Otabo Support Group, the two were saved from life on the street.

"Thank God that my son and I receive free HIV drugs from General Hospital, Otukpo and care from Otabo. Look at my son. He has added weight because of the nuts I receive here," she says.

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