“TOKUMA” Village saving and loan association (VSLA) group which stands for “UNITY” in Affan Oromo is helping many HIV+ women from behind the closet to Walk Self-satisfied and Shining in the Community.

Chuchu, a 45-year-old single mother of two girls, who lost her husband eight years ago to HIV/AIDS, a resident of Adama City, was under a deep depression knowing her HIV-positive status. she was so scared of potential stigma and discrimination that she stayed in her home with her children rather than socializing outdoors. The worst part is, she hadn’t been able to hold down a job that could support herself or her children as she was getting sick from time to time.

Upon connecting with the USAID-funded FFHPCTs program, she enrolled in the Family Focus HIV Care and Treatment Service (FFHPCTA) program implemented by MENA Adama SNU and joined the Tokuma VSLA group. since then, she found relief and confidence as her fear of stigma and discrimination that forced her to stay out of the grid in her small house disappeared.

With the loan from VSLA, Chuchu purchased a small ox and began working on her home garden. She then diversified her IGA portfolio and started raising poultry, buying two-layer hens. On top of tending to her hens and vegetables, she also looked after two avocado trees in her homestead.  Impressed by such progress, the Tokuma VSLA group built their trust in her capabilities and offered an extra loan for more husbandry activity – this time, she became more successful and started to take off her children and her well-being and health as never before.

She has now become virally suppressed as a result of participating in FFHPCT programs, moreover, it paved a safe and healthy future for the household as they are now in good health and better financial capacity. Chuchu is so grateful to USAID/FFHPCT Activity through MENA for being a light during her darkest.