‘In the past I was very sick. I felt my life was at risk,’ says 51-year-old George Libitaslilo from Simulumbe in the Western Province of Zambia.
When George fell seriously ill after a run of bad health in 2003, he got tested and was diagnosed with both malaria and HIV.
In 2004 he began taking antiretrovirals to treat his HIV, but after the 2003 malaria attack he suffered two more bouts of malaria - so severe that he almost lost his life.
Having learnt of his situation, George received counselling and it wasn’t long before his outlook moved from despair to one of expectation.
‘I thought I should be able to live like any other person, that it was not the end of the world,' he recalls.
Photo by George Libitaslilo. A community visited by George
For George the experience was transformational and, with support from Zambia Anglican Council’s (ZAC) malaria programme, he was able to give something back to his community.
Aware of the dangers of malaria should it go untreated and having experienced the effects first-hand, he quickly volunteered – and was soon elected - to become one of the ZAC’s 100 trained community health volunteers, or malaria control agents.
George became a champion of HIV and malaria in his community and now leads a support group for people living with HIV.
As a community health volunteer, George visits households raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of malaria and the importance of using mosquito nets.
‘I could be helpful to the community’
‘I decided that I should emphasise to the community that besides being [HIV] positive, I could be helpful,' says George.
For George, Christian Aid partner ZAC made a difference in Simulumbe: ‘This programme has improved things; members of the community are very healthy and happy as far as malaria is concerned.’
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