Pauline Samhenda has worked with Ace Africa Tanzania for three years as a community health and wellbeing counsellor. She is married, lives with her two young children in Arusha town and has 15 years of experience counselling people living with HIV and AIDS and their families.
Working closely with the Ministry of Health, local leaders and community volunteers is vital. But most of Pauline’s time is spent with families struggling to survive because of their poor health, desperate poverty and a lack of access to basic welfare services.
Pauline is often the only visitor for people who live in isolation, facing stigma and humiliation. Sometimes walking up to 5 kilometres a day to see her clients. She helps to improve their physical health and mental wellbeing, works to reduce HIV stigma in the community and encourages better care by neighbours.
Working in the heart of hard to reach communities
Pauline supports the government to bring health and HIV prevention and care services closer to people living in remote and rural areas, establishing networks of support where these people actually live – not in far-away towns and cities. She provides information about the health services available and the rights of people to access them.
Together with Ace counsellors and government nurses she offers outreach HIV testing services in market places and rural villages at least four times a month. Once a month she leads ‘moonlight testing’, staying up all night to counsel and test people who want to know their HIV status.
In 2017, Pauline contributed to Ace Africa Tanzania testing over 5,000 people for HIV.
Long term, comprehensive support for people in desperate need
Alongside local nurses and community health volunteers, Paulina ensures that people living with HIV and AIDS then continue to access services and maintain a healthy diet and stick to their treatment plan.
Pauline’s job requires dedication, empathy and compassion, as well as immense physical and emotional strength. People like her are the heart and soul of Ace Africa’s work.
Thank you to Comic Relief who fund this project.