The Association Solidarité, Vie et Santé (ASVS – Association of Solidarity, Life and Health) in Ouagadougou caters mostly to women with HIV who are poor and have been abandoned by their families.
The aim of the association is to improve the women’s living conditions by offering medical, psychosocial and educational support, as well as help with income-coming activities. The ASVS reaches 212 people with HIV – 200 women and 12 men – and 76 orphans.
It was to help women who had been rejected by all that the association was set up by Fr Jean-Luc Masson SJ, Sr Françoise Dauger and Gertrude Diarra more than 10 years ago. Before joining the ASVS, most of its members were in a very poor state, some just languished in the streets, waiting to die.
To restore their human dignity and to help them reintegrate in their communities, the ASVS decided to help the women to regain their health and, where possible, to earn a modest income. The association also encourages the women to support one another in mutual solidarity and urges their families to welcome them back.
The medical care offered by the ASVS includes free medical consultations and care for opportunistic infections, accompanying ASVS members to hospital for urgent care, and paying medical prescriptions and the cost of tests. ‘Observance clubs’ and treatment literacy sessions ensure adherence to treatment. The ASVS team goes on home and hospital visits in cases of need, offers counselling and organises support groups as well as educational sessions. On the economic front, the ASVS extends microcredit to some of its members, in collaboration with another faith-based organisation in Burkina. For the poorest of its members, the ASVS managed to find funding to build modest two-roomed homes.
Belonging to the ASVS has helped people with HIV in many ways. Those who joined have gradually regained the will to live, and a touching solidarity can be seen in the help they extend to one another. Just one example: when Ouagadougou was flooded in 2009, some women took in others who had lost their homes and could find no other accommodation due to stigma.
In early 2011, the ASVS completed the construction of a new welcome centre in Tanghin neighbourhood of Ouagadougou and started to offer services from there soon afterwards. The new centre includes a clinic.