GAIA Vaccine Foundation

Our mission is to promote prevention of infectious diseases (HIV, TB, and HPV) in Mali while working to develop vaccines for distribution on a not-for-profit basis in the developing world. The Foundation's activities are centered on four themes: education, prevention, access to care, and vaccines. Through our active, ongoing collaboration with West African physicians and support for prevention-related clinical activities in the region, we work to improve the health of Malian children and their parents while setting the stage for ethical vaccine trials.
Nov 5, 2014

Join GAIA's climb to the top!

Dear supporters,

This is an exciting time for GAIA Vaccine Foundation! We are proud to announce that we are round 13 winners of the Grand Challenges grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation! Our HPV cloth project, called the "Story-telling cloth" is listed on their website:

http://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/explorations/Pages/grantsawarded.aspx?Round=all&Phase=all&ProjectID=1328

And now the challenge begins! We have 18 months to prove that our innovative textile designs can change the existing culture around HPV vaccination and the lack of cervical cancer screenings in West Africa. We need your help now more than ever!

We will be running education sessions in Mali and surveying participants to assess our story-telling cloth's ability to help women understand the connection between HPV and cervical cancer. 

We have a finalized version of the design that incorporates the input of the Malian focus groups that took place over the summer. Colors have been varied to best suit our community's fashion sense! We also added a popular Bambara slogan "BANAKOUBÈ KAFISA NI BANA FOURA KÈYÉ", meaning "It's better to prevent than cure".

Our founder, Annie De Groot, is currently delivering cloth to West African musicians who have agreed to support  and promote our campaign. Stay tuned for photos in a future report, this promises to be eye-catching!

Please continue your support of this important innitiative. We are on the road to success, and we would love for you to join us!

Links:

Oct 14, 2014

We are raising teachers

Mali
Mali's first lady speaks at Nat'l MTCTP launch

  "Cet enfant que vous voyez n’a rien par ce que j’ai commencé à prendre des medicaments au cours de la grossesse."

"This child that you see on my lap is HIV free because I learned to take medication duing my pregnancy", an HIV+ patient in a pink dress explained to me at the Hope Center Clinic. After losing one daughter to HIV infections, it must have felt like a miracle to give birth to a son who is safe from the virus.

Our HIV+ patients are the best teachers we could provide the community, because they hold the proof in their arms that our program is 100% effective.

Another one of our patients, a girl born with HIV who is quickly growing into a bright young woman spoke of her desire to educate others about HIV,

The advice that I would give you if you were HIV+ is to make sure that you don't go out and infect other. You can get tested and protect yourself. People need to understand that AIDS is not a mean disease.

Unfortunately, due to crippling stigma that HIV+ people face in Mali, it is not easyfor our brave patients to go out and share theirs stories.

We need to continue our community outreach efforts and encourage new patients to adhere to their medication and the Mother to Child Transmission Prevention program (MTCTP) that we have created at Hope Center Clinic. In July, a national program was launched in Mali to eliminate mother to child transmission over the next five years. This is an ambitious plan, but GAIA has proven that with adherance to our program, 100% HIV free births are possible.

Thank you for your continued support, and please help us gain momentum as we continue this fight!

Links:

Oct 14, 2014

A little bit goes a long way

New Cooking supplies!
New Cooking supplies!

Our conditions are not ideal: the only space for the cooking activities is in the crowded courtyard of our Hope Center Clinic, between the maternity ward and the consultation rooms. Our patients however, are eager to make do with whatever they have. Rain or shine, they cook the weekly meal for all the HIV patients and their children. 

These women have overcome so much living in a society that is still learning to treat HIV+ people with dignity. As Socrates, our peer educator explained,  

Stigma is real. I can tell you that today things are a tiny bit better, but it's not eliminated. Before, when someone tested postitve, they were automatically abandoned by their family, fired from their jobs, and rejected by the community because of their positive status. The stress of that will kill a person. It's not the disease that will kill them.

The women at our clinic had have access to epathetic caregivers and as much pychosocial support as we could provide. It is clear from their testimonies that they have broken through many boundaries imposed by stigma, even if they lost husbands or children along the way. As "Mama"  explains using that particular gift of diction that Malians possess,

With my close family I don't have any problems; my father, my mother, my brothers and sisters; they all support me with my HIV status. People around me, however, talk about me behind my back. I don't care though, because this isn't something that I took my money and bought at the market place, this is part of God's plan for me.

Our HIV+ patients are strong and self-reliant, and they have goals for their own lives and big dreams for their children, yet their every day lives are full the of immediate challenges of trying to care for their families with the little that they have.

With only $200, GAIA Vaccine Foundation purchased new cooking supplies for the group; shiny pots and pans and new plates to accomodate the group's increasing numbers. We set up a tin roof to protect the cooks and their children from the sun and the rain. 

With a mere $75 per week, we have now increased the cooking activity from once weekly to twice weekly: Wednesdays and Fridays.

These are small improvements that can be accomoplished with very small funds. There is so much more that we need to do, but as a small foundation, we are doing the best we can with the little that we have.

With your support, our patients are now happily cooking with their new pots. Please consider giving a donation that would futher increase our capacity to provide nutritional support.

Many thanks from everyone at the Hope Center Clinic!

New tin roof!
New tin roof!

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