The work of home-based caregivers is not limited to healthcare; they also play a crucial role in the holistic well being of their communities. Funding grassroots caregivers injects much needed revenue into local economies that are often amongst the most marginalized. Additionally, investing in and supporting self-organized groups of home-based caregivers is an opportunity to promote sustainable development within these communities.
As holistic development actors caregivers:
Improve Local Economies
Home-based caregivers support the development of local economies with livelihood training programs, economic empowerment initiatives, income-generating groups, and savings and credit groups.
Secure Land and Housing Rights with Community Watchdog Groups
Home-based caregivers have formed Watch-Dog Groups, as they continue to find widows and orphans being dispossessed of their land and property when their spouses and parents die of AIDS. Additionally many women living with HIV are targeted for land stripping by community members. Watch-Dog Groups continue to raise awareness of women’s legal right to land tenure through community outreach and educate women and youth on what documentation they must obtain in order to legally claim their husbands or parents’ land. Along with assistance of community paralegals, they prevent land grabbing by ensuring proper record keeping, and challenge families and community members seeking to intimidate HIV positive women, widows, and orphans.
Grassroots women are integrating youth, particularly girls into community-based organizations in order to promote their social and economic empowerment. As women living and working in the community, grassroots women are well aware that young women and youth cannot just be brought into a time-limited program and then sent off into the world if one wants to see positive results. Grassroots women train girls in income generation, knowing that empowerment is a lifetime process. Challenges are being faced by these groups because of the overwhelming number of orphans in every community, and a lack of funding to support youth-led groups and initiatives including peer learning for youth.
Hold Government Leaders Accountable with Local to Local dialogues
Local to Local Dialogues are locally designed strategies whereby grassroots women’s groups engage in dialogues with local authorities, relevant government departments, municipalities, NGOs, development partners, the private sector and the media to influence policies, plans and programs in ways that address women’s priorities.
Local-to-Local dialogues enable caregivers to increase their participation in local decision-making. Caregivers use this opportunity to direct more attention to the issues that matter most for communities dealing with HIV/AIDS. This includes the link between HIV/AIDS and Land, which is often not recognized by local authorities. Local to Local Dialogues are also a platform for community mobilization and an opportunity to create mechanisms that monitor government HIV/AIDS programs. Without the resulting accountability and transparency, home-based caregivers cannot effectively challenge the corruption and gender bias that so often occurs within these programs.
Mapping places grassroots women in the center of information collection by empowering them to undertake critical evaluations of the state of their communities. Through participatory processes often involving the entire community, Caregivers collect data on the number of HIV infected and affected people in their neighborhood through a process called Community Mapping. They use action research to better lobby for greater resources and support for their groups and communities.
Many households affected by HIV/AIDS do not have access to sufficient food and nutrition. Proper nutrition is very important for disease resistance and may improve the quality of life and effectiveness of medication of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), especially if they are taking anti-retroviral (ARV) medication. In fact, poor nutrition, or ingesting the medication without food, nullifies the benefits of the drugs and may make the individual taking it even more ill.
Home-based caregivers are farming vegetables and staple grains to feed PLWHA, orphans, and the elderly. They are also engaging in income generating farming projects to fund their care they provide for their communities.