Catherine Phiri was a 40 years old nurse from Malawi, mother of two kids, who discovered to be HIV positive after the death of her husband due to AIDS. Risking violence and stigmatization in a conservative society such as that of her country, Catherine decided to come out in the open, to declare her HIV-positive condition, and to use her experience to break the silence surrounding AIDS. She thus became a respected leader, a charismatic fiugre, a source of insipiration for thousands of people. The Salima HIV/AIDS Support Organization (SASO), which she founded in 1994, is dedicated to the assistance to thousands of AIDS orphans, to the spreading of information on the HIV virus, and to the care of hundreds of terminally ill patients. Based entirely on voluntary work, SASO grew tremendously over the years, involving thousands of people in the district of Salima.
Catherine Phiri symbolizes the strength of African women and their capacity of reaction against adverse circumstances, their constant commitment to new solidarity experiences, to self-organization and social creativity. As her health worsened, Catherine continued in her battle till the very last day, with the same determination and courage which marked her entire life.