UNAIDS Special Representative Mary Fisher visits Zambia
29 August 2007
As part of her work as UNAIDS Special Representative, AIDS activist, public speaker, author and artist Mary Fisher visited Lusaka, Zambia in August to promote AIDS awareness and increase support for various AIDS initiatives within the country. Traveling with a group of US-based health, business, and foundation leaders Mary visited sites throughout the capital, including a shelter for street children, a community school, and a training centre for young girls.
While in Lusaka, Ms. Fisher visited several shelters for street children and vulnerable girls, including Fountain of Hope and the Umoyo Training Centre. These organizations provide information on HIV, free health services, HIV prevention materials, and educational assistance to members of local communities.
At the Chikumbuso Women and Orphans project, Ms. Fisher and her colleagues joined single mothers and widows to find out more about their income-generating activities such as bracelet-making to support their families. Women at Chikumbuso also collect plastic grocery bags and weave them into purses and handbags that are sold at a weekly curio market in Lusaka. According to Ms. Fisher, the income generated from such a project “not only helps [the women] sustain themselves and their families, but provides a source of pride and hope.”
As part of the mission, Ms Fisher also met with Maureen Mwanawasa, First Lady of Zambia and founder of the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative at a State House event. During the event, the First Lady affirmed her support for Mary Fisher’s advocacy work and made it clear that Zambia’s political leaders are “committed to halting the spread of HIV”. As Chair of the Organisation of African First Ladies, and founder of its national chapter in Zambia, the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative, Mrs. Mwanawasa has been particularly active in raising awareness and initiating programmes addressing HIV, not only in Zambia, but throughout Africa.
HIV prevalence rates in Zambia remain high at 18%, however the country has made significant progress in recent years, increasing the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment and strengthening HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support programs in urban and rural areas.
Mary Fisher has been a UNAIDS Special Representative since May 2006. She works to raise awareness on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support with an emphasis on women and children. Fisher is also the founder the Mary Fisher Clinical AIDS Research and Education (CARE) Fund at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is an active member of the leadership council of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS.
More information on Mary Fisher's activities as a UNAIDS Special Representative