40 year-old Kiliyoni Msiska, a married father of two children, lives in Kamphandira village in the area of Traditional Authority Kafuzira in Nkhotakota district.
For a very long time mentally ill persons in the area lacked knowledge of mental health issues, access to mental health care services and social and economic integration in the community. The challenges had been a contributing factor to high cases of stigma and discrimination against mentally ill persons.
Msiska is one of the stabilized mentally ill persons from the area who faced stigma and discrimination during the time he was mentally ill.
“I faced a lot of discrimination from people in my village. They said I could not mix with them because I was mentally ill,” he says.
After receiving counselling and literacy training through a three year Comic Relief funded project called Passing and supporting: Building tactics for community mental health care being implemented by Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) in partnership with Zomba Mental Hospital, Msiska is now living a normal life.
“Now I am able to mix up with everyone. I sit and eat together with others,” he says.
Msiska together with Village Savings and Loans (VSL) group members bought a pig to start pig farming.
“We did some piece work in order to raise some funds so after the money was raised we decided to buy a pig. Right now the pig is expected to have piglets soon,” he says.
Msiska’s in-law Catherine Chisa says before Msiska started receiving medical care through the project, he was usually a sad man and very depressed.
“He was often abused verbally by people from the community. As one of his relatives this also affected us but we were giving him support,” she says.