We have been fortunate to host two events with Ida Mukuka who is a Field Representative of the SLF in Lusaka Zambia over the past two years
At our first meeting Ida spoke with great emotion about the death of her close friend Winstone Zulu, a Zambian HIV activist, whom she credits with saving her life after she lost her brother and husband to aids. She spoke about dealing with abuse and fighting off her late husband’s family when they tried to take her property.
After the death of her brother she became involved with grassroots HIV/Aids work and began working as a Counsellor and as a Community Outreach Coordinator mobilizing HIV positive men and women to join support groups and become peer educators in their communities.
Six years ago, she took on a new role as a Field Representative for the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Africa. Ida travels regularly throughout sub-Saharan Africa, assessing potential grassroots organizations for funding and supporting existing projects.
She talked about the successes she experiences when she visits a project where there is medication, children are going to school & the grandmothers have food to eat. But she re-iterated strongly that the issues are still there as Aids has not disappeared and people are still dying. As we all know only too well, there is a great deal of work to be done.
In 2013, our event was hosted at the First Nareyever Synagogue in downtown Toronto. Ida brought slides of her work in the field and told us amazing tales of change created through SLF funds and resilient grandmothers. One such illustration was in a small village in Ethiopia where SLF funds were used to initiate micro projects such as vegetable growing. One grandmother delighted in the fact that she now had a bank account (balance $5) and that she could now buy oil for cooking for her grandchildren and soap with which to bathe them. Ida herself choked up relating their stories.
Ida is an amazing woman, warm and lively, forthright and funny. Her energy and drive have no limits.