Past Story

Welcome! Positivewomen.org is now rethemed into an expat blog living in Singapore. Here is little history about the site.

What We Do

Positive Women is an innovative, forward thinking charity based in south Wales and London, set up to empower women and children across Africa, starting with Swaziland.

Our work focuses on supporting communities to change their own lives and circumstances, to alleviate poverty and make significant social change. We work through local implementing partners and with grassroots community support groups within, these communities, so we can ensure that the changes we make are needed and effective. By giving the communities control over how we help, the changes made will have long lasting effects for the whole of the community. To achieve this we do three things: Protect from harm, create opportunity and improve the system:

Protect from harm
To be able to make the most of opportunities ahead, the communities we work with first have to be free from harm. Our programmes do this through ensuring: access to health care, a sustainable food supply and ensuring that orphans and vulnerable children are supported in meeting their basic needs.

Create opportunity
Everybody has hopes, aspirations and ambitions. We invest in creating the skills, tools and opportunities that allow people to fulfill their potential and achieve their aims for a better tomorrow. We do this through supporting children to go to school, the establishment of small scale enterprise and ensuring that the community groups we work with are skilled, informed and educated.

Protect from harm

To be able to make the most of opportunities ahead, the communities we work with first have to be free from harm. Our programmes do this through ensuring: access to health care, a sustainable food supply and ensuring that orphans and vulnerable children are supported in meeting their basic needs.

Create opportunity
Everybody has hopes, aspirations and ambitions. We invest in creating the skills, tools and opportunities that allow people to fulfill their potential and achieve their aims for a better tomorrow. We do this through supporting children to go to school, the establishment of small scale enterprise and ensuring that the community groups we work with are skilled, informed and educated.

.Improve the system
We think it’s really important that the international community knows about the challenges facing the women and children we work with. We act as their voice, ensuring that the world hears their stories and take action to change things for the better.

How We Began

I met Siphiwe in 2005 and she told me her inspirational story and inspired me to act.

Back in 2000 Siphiwe had earned a scholarship to study for a degree in agriculture in the UK. Part of the scholarship process at that time required Siphiwe to have a HIV test. She told me that when she went to see the doctor he said,

“I’m sorry Siphiwe but you won’t be studying in the UK”.

The scholarship was not valid for anyone who was HIV positive, as back then it was viewed as a bad investment. Siphiwe went home and told her husband and as is the case for many Swazi women that reveal their positive status, was thrown out of her home and blamed for bringing the virus there.

Unlike most, the amazing Siphiwe was not going to accept that and so, she got together with a group of 5 other women and acted. They started a support group, which then consistent of just those 5 women and now stands at over 5000 women across Swaziland.

When Siphiwe invited me to Swaziland, I bit her hand off and was there a very short while after we’d met. I remember driving, down a dirt track, over a bush or two and through a river, to a rural school and having swarms of children rush on over. It’s always amazing to be around excited children and so we were playing with them and chatting to the teachers, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw the boy that changed my life.

He was sat under a tree in the distance and I asked Siphiwe who it was. She told me his name was Sibusiso and he was 8 years old and very sick. We went over to him and I saw he was covered in scabies, painfully thin, with a massive swollen tummy and wouldn’t look up or speak. Siphiwe told me that he was an orphan and that he lived with his grandfather, who they suspected was abusing him and his sister. They also thought he was HIV positive and so would not live very long.

I’d never seen an 8 year old with such little hope and such deep sadness and I was filled with an overwhelming desire to protect this little boy, who had to suffer so much. So I decided to do something about it and enlisted the help of my amazing mother and sister and Positive Women was born.

So that’s how it all began and over the years we’ve developed a number of different programs, including paying for school fees for orphans, setting up income generation projects, providing legal support and feeding programs for the rural communities in Swaziland.

How We Work

Positive Women believes in working in partnership with local organisations. As they are part of the community, they know first hand the challenges they face and so are best place to find the right solutions. We believe this is the key to effective and sustainable change. We currently work through a local, women led organistion, Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL).

SWAPOL

SWAPOL was founded in 2001 by five strong and brave HIV positive Swazi women, who were encountering stigma and discrimination from their families and people in the communities. These women came together and formed a support group to help each other and educate their communities and families. The organisation now has over 6000 members who make up support groups in over 45 communities.

How the support groups work

The groups that SWAPOL has established are made up of rural women, who are either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

There is a chairperson, treasurer and vice chair appointed for each support group and the groups have between 20 -50 members who support communities of up to 1000 people.

The group also looks after the orphans and vulnerable children in the area, providing emotional and resources support. They are the hubs for making change happen in their communities and it is through these groups that we intend to make a sustainable and holistic impact.