Jens Van Roey, M.D., and his Tibotec and Virco colleagues in Mechelen, Belgium, are helping to provide a Ugandan village with a fresh water supply so that children need not walk hours each day to collect water.
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Jens Van Roey: Sikiliza Leo is the name of a local association of people living the HIV AIDS. Their main reason of existence is to empower the local community in coping with HIV. What would be the biggest priority for that rural community being affected by HIV? Water. You must imagine a family that has one or two members that are HIV affected, that are AIDS defined. One of the symptoms that everybody knows from HIV is diarrhea, is vomiting, is fever. In these conditions you need extra water; not only to keep your body fluids on level but also to clean up, you need huge amounts of water. Children, especially young girls instead of going to school, are going to fetch water and it takes them hours to have little quantities for the family. It becomes obvious death; better access to water is the priority. That was how we came to the water project, which is the single biggest activity that we have with the group. We wanted to have an initiative that is driven by people that are believing what they are doing, that have a specific motivation, that have made a choice to do that, on top of their normal work. Any employee of Tibotec Virco can submit an idea to the working group for a fund raising activity. In 2004, 2005 it really got off the ground, we're able to organize almost every two to three weeks an activity. There was a female 5 kilometer and 12 kilometer run. Then another person was selling vegetables on his home ground, vegetables from his garden, the profit, 100% for the project. Another initiative was sales of t-shirts. My email -- is a red ribbon and a text on need to talk about HIV in order to fight denial and stigma. Two colleagues thought, if we combine this text and this red ribbon and we put it on a T-shirt; we can do fund raising and at the same time, everybody who is buying the T-shirts will have the massage clearly, not only the red ribbon as you see it here, but also that text of really focusing, spelling the word HIV. I think together we have succeeded in getting some kind of awareness about issues that are relevant for communities in Africa, especially for communities affected by HIV. You solve things with understanding, with empathy, with partnerships. You have to build something up from there with the resource and the means that are locally available. So, it will be sustainable. With the project we hope that the families in these villages would have access to a permanent water source, which we call protected wells and protected springs. Sikiliza Leo is a Swahili word, which means listening to tomorrow; it's a massage of hope.

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