Education Fights Aids (EFA) International

The mission of EFA International is to promote the successful future of African children, youth and families affected by HIV and AIDS through education, enterprise, and empowerment. EFA International is working towards this mission by empowering young people with the skills, resources, and support they need to live positive and healthy lives.
Apr 2, 2014

International Recognition for Mairamou!

We could not be more proud of Mariamou of Godola, Cameroon, and the inspiring work that she does so tirelessly for her community!

Mairamou was recently awarded an international Community Health Worker award that honors her committment to her community and her relentless desire to fight HIV stigma in her community.

Please read about her nomination here.

Mairamou is particularly passionate about her work with orphans and other children who might be vulnerable due to their or their parents' HIV status. The support that you have given through the Circle of Love helps to make her job easier. When the HIV positive parents of a child are on treatment and have good medical care, their child becomes less vulnerable.  Thank you for all that you have done to support the work that Mairamou does. 

We are lucky to have her in our Circle of Love. 

Mar 10, 2014

First steps toward the transition

Since our last update, things have been progressing quickly in Cameroon!

Over the last few months, Alim – EFA International’s former Regional Coordinator and EFA Cameroun’s new Director – has been working tirelessly to lay the groundwork for the official launch of EFA Cameroun. The early stages of a transition are never particularly glamorous, but they are key aspects of a responsible and sustainable handover. The staff in Cameroon are proving their efficiency and professionalism every day, as they work through a seemingly thankless list of administrative tasks – drafting bylaws, registering with the tax authorities, establishing pay scales, etc. All of these vital first steps have now been accomplished, and we are ready to move into the more strategic phase of the transition over the next few months.

Perhaps most importantly, EFA Cameroun now has an impressive and inspiring new national board! The national board is a diverse group of HIV stakeholders, including Dr. Rebecca Djao, regional delegate for the Department of Public Health in the Far North region of Cameroon, Dr. Sadou Kalandi, coordinator of the HIV Regional Technical Group in the Far North, and Mr. Maurice Kwite, who leads a social marketing agency within the border region with Chad. The new national board also includes civil society representatives from HIV care and support organizations, such as Mme. Rose Didja Bouba (currently with CARE Cameroon) and Mme. Aissa Doumara, who works with a local organization in Maroua that is committed to the fight against gender-based violence. Mr. Pierre Tchana, a local lawyer who represents civil society organizations in the region, Mr. Blaise Djilo, an economist who supports income generation projects throughout Cameroon, and Mr. Bouba Bawa, who works with the High Commission for Refugees, have also joined the Board. All of the new board members have worked with EFA at some phase during its development and are deeply committed to seeing it through this next phase.

Preparations are now underway for EFA Cameroun’s first board meeting in mid-June. At the first meeting, the new Board will undergo targeted training on their roles and responsibilities as Board members and group activities, designed to foster teamwork and a shared sense of commitment and dedication - to EFA as an organization, to the Youth Empowerment Network and to all of EFA's beneficiaries. Everyone is looking forward to coming together to usher in a sustainable and successful future for EFA Cameroun.

We are so very proud to have this formidable group of individuals joining us in the fight against AIDS. Their perspective, influence, and experience will help us to stay true to our mission: to promote the successful future of Cameroonian children, youth, and families affected by HIV and AIDS through education, enterprise, and empowerment.

Thanks to your early support for this transition, we are well on our way to ensuring a sustainable future for EFA Cameroun! We look forward to staying in touch with you as things progress over the next few months.

Feb 10, 2014

Confronting Stigma in Cameroon

I try my best to follow the news in Cameroon, especially the news that might affect the young people in our network. This week, I came across an article called Cameroon: Enduring HIV Stigma in Cameroon.

The article highlights all of the ways in which people living with HIV are stigmatized...there are no laws on the books to protect someone from discrimination, there is discriminiation within health care, within banking and insurance, within the formal and informal sectors of employment, 

In reading the article, I could have been discouraged. I could have thought the worst for the youth in our network for they could even be seen as doubly discriminated against--for their HIV+ status and their age. 

Yet, when I read the article, I was reminded of all the significant ways in which Education Fights AIDS (EFA) tackles all of these issues. 

First, by creating associations around the region that are linked with each other, we are creating a support system to guard against discrimination and to fight discrimination when it occurs. I am reminded of a story of one of our association members who sold breakfast outside of her home each and every morning. One morning, when she was setting up for the day, she noticed that there was graffiti on the exterior wall of her home: "Eat Here and Get AIDS". She alerted her association members and they acted fast to paint over the graffiti. Then, they went to the authorities and ended up fighting the case as a hate crime in the courts. She was victorious in the end. 

That is the power of EFA! Not only did she have a support system, she had a support system that was empowered enough to act out their support! 

At the very center of our fight is a fight for health. The Circle of Love helps us win that fight by providing medications and transportation to access health care. By assuring health, we can assure that we also fight discrimination at every turn.  Our youth deserve nothing less.

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