Big eyes to see, big ears to listen, and a small mouth to speak.
Friends of AIDS Support Trust (FAST) is an AIDS service organization registered with the government of Malawi in 1997 under the Trustees Incorporation Act. FAST has established strong relations with the rural communities of Nsanje District through interactive approaches to building community competence to respond to HIV and AIDS. Over the past 15 years, FAST has managed to scale up its activities while simultaneously building its capacity by employing full time staff. FAST works in the two traditional authorities of Ngabu and Ndamera, covering 88 villages and a population of over 50,000 people.
FAST focuses primarily on:
- Integrated Home Based Care (HBC) and orphans and vulnerable children care (OVCs), both of which are community based.
- Community AIDS peer education, primarily as an advocacy tool addressing humans rights issues, access to treatment, care, and support.
- Sustainable skills transfer to communities through ongoing training of volunteers.
- Pre-test counseling (integrated with spiritual counseling) for marriage purposes, couple testing, and child testing.
- Rights-based approaches to HIV and AIDS programming that enhances community participation in delivery of interventions through adult literacy and REFLECT.
In keeping with these goals, FAST is dedicated to increasing community competence in responding to the AIDS epidemic through:
- Intensifying its advocacy role in the district, with a focus on vulnerable women and children
- Promoting rights-based approaches to programming through gender-focused initiatives.
- Promoting sustainable skills learning for ensured income generation and long-term competence.
The proposed project objectives and activities have been designed to contribute to these foci by empowering vulnerable women and orphan girls to educate themselves and secure their livelihoods. Additionally, access to property / assets and the ability to earn a sustainable income further increase their community competence.
Under a revised strategic plan, FAST has made a paradigm shift and will strengthen its efforts focusing on human security in the upcoming years in the following areas:
- Improve the technical capacity of its staff members through skills development,
- Provide a comprehensive community based health care package, including sexual and reproductive health services,
- Promote access to education to ensure that each individual has opportunities and choices to fulfill their own potential,
- Link up with national networks to lobby for adherence of national policies by duty bearers,
- Provide empowerment opportunities to vulnerable people, women and children in particular, in order to take steps towards reducing poverty, achieving economic growth, and reducing people’s vulnerability to economic shocks,
- Building community competence through training and provision of adequate information,