Being worried has been a way of life for Madji since she was diagnosed with HIV.
She is one of 210,000 people in Chad who are living with the condition and has had to get used to feeling isolated and stigmatised.
‘We are infected people and we do worry,’ said Madji.
But gradually those feelings are being lifted as a result of the work of Tearfund partner EPJ which is tackling the effects of poverty among women living with HIV in Chad.
EPJ is helping local churches form groups to not only offer social and pastoral support but to help women boost their incomes.
The groups provide a means for women to pool savings and to access loans which can be used to set-up small enterprises, such as selling livestock, or meet every day needs.
In Doba, in the south of Chad, a group called Espoir (meaning Hope) is typical. It’s made up of 80 women, including widows and others who have been abandoned by their husbands, who meet regularly at a local church.
Madji says the group plays an important social role: ‘When we hear the stories of others it is a comfort. Our health is improving and we aren’t as isolated as before. It is thanks to this group that we are alive today.’
Other women tell of how the group has enabled them to boost their incomes so they’re now able to pay their children’s school fees, food and medical care. The group is supervised by Pastor Josias who provides pastoral care for them.
Group member Adel said, ‘I’m happy about this initiative. It supports us in a difficult situation. We can share and advise each other. I’m grateful as it’s not only a financial benefit but a moral one as well.’
Fellow member Nicole said, ‘When I fall sick, I now can use the money from the group to buy medicine. It is good I can care for myself.’