Notes from the Field: The Foundation at the Kilimanjaro Marathon
Enjoying the beautiful view of the precious African queen, Mount Kilimanjaro, Foundation staff and some beneficiaries of care and treatment (C&T) services at Foundation-supported sites in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania joined thousands of runners that participated at the Kilimanjaro Marathon event held in Moshi town on Sunday, 26 February 2012.
The Kilimanjaro marathon starting and ending points were located at Moshi Cooperative Union ground, where many profit-making companies had their booths located. The Foundation was the only non-governmental organization (NGO) with a booth at this ground; our aim was to reach out to the marathon participants with valid knowledge on comprehensive HIV and AIDS services.
This is the third time that the Foundation has participated in the Kilimanjaro marathon with the objective of advocacy and visibility. This year, about 200 people visited the Foundation booth and were offered health talks and publications including the Foundation brochure, leaflets, annual reports, fact sheets and more. Foundation members and beneficiaries staffed the booth.
A total of seven adolescents living with HIV who receive C&T services from Foundation-supported site located at KCMC Hospital, along with one elder who receives C&T services from KCMC site and works as an expert patient at Umbwe Health Centre site, participated in the five-kilometre “Fun Run.”
Through the beneficiaries’ participation, the Foundation was able to testify to the runners that adhering to C&T services and advice may lead to a healthier life for people living with HIV. EGPAF beneficiary Mr. Balthazar Munishi, who is 65 years old and receives C&T services from a Foundation-supported site in Kilimanjaro region, ran in the Fun Run and was at EGPAF’s booth giving his testimony. “Without making a proper follow-up of the care and treatment services and uptake of ARVs, I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am. I couldn’t even finish the 5 km run,” he said while talking to visitors.
The Foundation’s Country Director for Tanzania, Dr. Jeroen Van’t Pad Bosch, said, “It is gratifying to see some of the people living with HIV who get services in the sites we support participating in the 2012 Kilimanjaro Marathon. This is a testimony that HIV treatment works, and it should make people defy stigma, come out, get tested for HIV, live their lives, and work towards a Tanzania free of HIV.”
He added that the Foundation’s Tanzania office sees this event as an opportunity to reach more people with this information – which, if acted upon, has been proven to save lives.
Among the Foundation staff who participated in the race were Dr. Joseph Yuda Msoffe, who was the only participant in the marathon (42.2 kilometres). Dr. Werner Schimana and Gaspar Mbita ran in the half-marathon (21 kilometres); others included Dorice Kiama, Norah Mkenda, Angelina Kanuya, Christian Nkini, Deogratius Luhanga and two sons of Mr. Andrew Gwaja.
Both the half marathon and marathon (men’s and women’s) were won by Kenyan nationals, with Tanzanians placing well in seventh place for the marathon and third in the half marathon.
Mercy Nyanda is the Foundation's Program Coordinator, Communication & Outreach, and Dorice Kiama is the Foundation's Program Officer, Community Linkages. They are based in Tanzania.