WFP ‘magic bags’ support HIV-positive people during the coronavirus pandemic in Colombia
The nearly half a million people who receive WFP support every month during the COVID-19 crisis in Colombia include women living with HIV/AIDS in the Arauca, Sucre, Nariño and Norte de Santander departments.
In the urban and rural areas of Sucre, a department in the Caribbean region of Colombia, the support the World Food Programme (WFP) is providing to 120 HIV-positive women and trans- and cisgender people, is not limited to the delivery of food kits: it also includes training in food handling and preparation as well as on the importance of an adequate nutrition.
Twenty-six-year-old Erica is part of this initiative. She lives with her husband and her two children.
She believes living with HIV is a challenge to be taken seriously. She attends all due medical appointments and receives her treatments regularly. With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, however, it is only through WFP support that she has been able to provide the nutritional needs of her family.
“I like to call the food kit that we received the magic bag!,” says a joyful Erica. “You open it and lots of foods start coming out: beans, rice, oil, everything in perfect conditions. I have never received something like this in my life.”
“I like to call the food kit that we received the magic bag! (…) I have never received something like this in my life”
Carina is also a beneficiary of this project. This 37-year-old woman has lived with HIV for 16 years. She has two children, and the struggle to put food on their table in the absence of job opportunities has pushed her into sex work. WFP’s assistance has been crucial in facing the challenge of providing food for her family during the pandemic.
“I used to have a messy diet, and thanks to the training I learned about food safety and nutrition. Food is everything, if you don’t eat well, you won’t be ok. This is also very important considering the treatment we receive,” says Carina.
In the same region, other 26 people living with HIV/AIDS are being trained on how to transform aromatic and medicinal homegrown plants into essential oils and derived supplements for personal use. With the support of WFP, the project promotes ancestral traditions and helps these beneficiaries with the commercialization of the subproducts.
“I recently made my first oatmeal soaps, with a lot of love and dedication. I am grateful for this opportunity and for having reasons to continue fighting,” says Rosalina González, a beneficiary of this assistance.
The challenge of living with HIV/AIDS has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis for all these women. However, this has not stopped them from continuing to work to improve their lives and livelihoods.
During the global health crisis, WFP is committed more than ever to support those being hit the hardest, saving and changing lives while eliminating stigmas and discrimination, leaving no one behind.
A version in Spanish is available here.