The main purpose of the project is to sensitise the community in one of the most deprived areas of Malawi’s capital city to undergo voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB. A related aim is to meet the basic needs of the area’s elderly and orphans, many of whom are already known to have HIV/AIDS.
At present, Paradiso House is a modest brick building located in a shanty town suburb of Lilongwe. It is the antithesis of the ‘showcase’ aid projects that most foreign visitors tend to see. It illustrates what a few dedicated Malawians can do to help themselves and their community, in appalling conditions and with minimum external and no domestic financial backing. The Director, Mara Kumbweza Banda, is an able, highly articulate and well-motivated individual, who has satisfied Malawi Tomorrow that she has the potential to make a difference. Like most of her volunteer workers, she herself is a PLWA (person living with AIDS).
Since the expiry of start-up support from the Malawi Social Action Fund (MASAF), Paradiso House has had no regular core-funding. It survives mainly on occasional donations and monthly subventions from Malawi Tomorrow, which is in the process of setting up a funding mechanism that will rehabilitate the project and expand its capacity.
A top priority is to re-house the project and provide a community centre in a modest brick building on a plot of land bought by Malawi Tomorrow. The foundation stone was laid by the Scottish parliamentarians Karen Gillon MSP and Sylvia Jackson MSP when they visited Malawi in February 2006 as members of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation.