Meet Valeriano Angweng – Mobilizing his community for a better future!
One can’t help being reminded of the stories of Pied Piper when they see Valeriano play his whistle and dance down the road. Unlike this strange German folktale, however, Valeriano is leading his village to a better future, one without HIV/AIDS.
As an elder in his Aboke village, Valeriano Angweng has seen his community at it’s worst in decades. With the prevalence of HIV and the strain of manual labour, people were barely able to maintain a livelihood, children could not afford to attend school, or were orphaned. Organizations like Aboke HIV/AIDS Women’s Association (AHAWA) began to address these issues, but they had much work ahead of them. Quickly seeing the great value of their efforts, Valeriano spread his enthusiasm, mobilizing people to support AHAWA. His influence as an elder and his unquestionable charm have led countless people to join this grassroots movement that prevents HIV/AIDS and improves quality of life.
CAP/AIDS supported AHAWA’s grassroots efforts by becoming their core partner and providing income generating capital. This capital came in all shapes and sizes: oxen for ploughing, seeds for the farms, piglets to raise and sell, as well as bicycles so that farmers could transport their goods to the market to sell. Valeriano was given an ox in order to ease the physical labour of farming, and piglets to raise. Valeriano is thrilled with the change this has produced in his life and in his community. Dancing around as though he were a young child rather than an elder, Valeriano says, “By the time I started benefiting from the support… I began dancing and praising with happiness and joy, because my pocket there is money and income coming every day.”
Valeriano had enough income for himself and for others. He shared his wealth back with his community, giving children the money they needed to go to school. Valeriano’s generosity and concern for his community ensure that the development benefits of oxen and piglets continue beyond income generation, to support education and well-being in Aboke. The elation visible on his face and body, Valeriano shouts “that’s because with CAP/AIDS I dance!”
Check out this short video of Veleriano in action: http://youtu.be/2UIjdPpURDI