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It all started under a tree.

Prior to the Malawian government’s intervention with Anti-Retroviral Treatments (ARVs), which occurred in 2003, the stigma and fear surrounding living with HIV/ AIDS was devastating. People did not want to come forward with their status, and others feared getting tested, leading to an environment in which very ill people were not getting the care they required.

In Chinsapo, Chifundo volunteers from within the Catholic Church were going out to serve as many as possible, but due to the astounding numbers of ill people, they could not reach everyone. The group therefore decided to centralize itself in one location, at the local Catholic church, St. Denis Parish, where people living with HIV/AIDS could come to visit the nurse. While people waited their turn for a private visit with the nurse, they would sit outside under the trees in the church’s yard. As people became willing to come out in the open to visit the nurse, word of the community spread, and as the number of people living with HIV meeting each week grew, a community was being built of volunteers who wanted to serve people living with HIV/AIDS and of people who needed health care, support and love.

In 1999, an individual working for Beit Trust met with the group members to tell them a bit about the interests of his company. The organization supported groups of people looking to make an impact in their community. Beit Trust was able to offer the funds to create a building, and from there, the Chinsapo Rainbow Home Based Care Centre was born. While the Centre is registered as a faith-based organization under the Archdiocese of Lilongwe through the Malawian government, its volunteers and clients come from all religions and denominations: all are welcome to be served and cared for.

Since this time, the Chinsapo Rainbow Home Based Care Centre has continued to grow exponentially. In 2007, under the direction of the Catholic Health Commission, the Rainbow Centre expanded its services to better provide for other vulnerable members of the community. Orphans and vulnerable children were to be served through the opening the Community Based Child Care Centre and the secondary school, as well as through the payment of the school fees of Chinsapo orphans attending secondary school or the local technical college. In 2010, the Zikomo Bag Project was born, offering female volunteers living with HIV/AIDS the opportunity to gain financial independence. This year, the Rainbow Centre is proud to be able to offer computer lessons to the Chinsapo youth, and looks forward to the beginning of its next project, a tailoring program which will begin in January 2012.

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