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.
Jun 10, 2014

Keeping participation at the heart of the process

Consultation at ASSYSGOD, Godola
Consultation at ASSYSGOD, Godola

So often, participatory processes are seen as a luxury within development projects. Rather than privileging participation as fundamental for ensuring sustainability and a connection with community needs, agencies often ignore such practices in the face of the significant time and resource pressures that so many face.

In this respect, EFA has always been a bit different, as participation has always been central to our work. The very idea of EFA came out of a need identified by a group of young Cameroonians, and our approach continues to place our members at the center of our activities. At EFA, we truly believe that there are no better advocates for youth affected by HIV and/or AIDS than other youth facing the same circumstances. That is why empowerment has always been at the very center of our mission (to promote the successful future of African children, youth and families affected by HIV and AIDS through education, enterprise, and empowerment).

These values have guided our period of organizational transition. Although it may have been quicker to make decisions at the top of the organizational structure, we feel strongly that the future of EFA must be decided by its beneficiaries. Our role in this process is not to guide the future strategy but to enable the local staff and the members of youth associations to make their own decisions about where EFA is going and what EFA should be. This process began in earnest last month when the EFA Cameroun staff started a series of site visits to each of the associations in the Youth Empowerment Network. The objective of the visits is to start a frank and open conversation with all of the association members about the future and vision of EFA Cameroun. The ideas and suggestions generated during the site visits will then be fed back to the Transition Committee, who will support the local staff to develop a detailed strategy based on the association members’ ideas and contributions. This strategy will then be formally adopted by all of the presidents of the associations at a network-wide meeting later this summer.

We are excited to see what the association members suggest – and we are proud to see the EFA Cameroun staff leading the process with such energy, passion and commitment. We look forward to keeping you updated as this important process continues.

Consultation at AJAM, Moutourwa
Consultation at AJAM, Moutourwa
May 5, 2014

Brave AND Heroic!

It is impossible to hide how proud we are of the ever-so-brave members of the Education Fights AIDS youth associations.  This story is about Djingui a member of our AJEPS association and one of our many remarkable association members!

Djingui, one of the EFA Peer Educators, told us about an every day peer educaiton moment. He was out in town and hopped on a moto to go home.  He and the moto driver struck up a conversation about HIV.  The driver told Djingui that he was concerned about his sister who was bed-ridden at home.  He described the fairly typical AIDS-symptoms—supreme fatigue, weight-loss, and the list continues—to Djingui.  Djingui confidently offered stigma-free and non-judemental counsel to his moto driver and convinced him to take his sister to get tested for HIV the next day.

Sure enough, the test came back positive.  But, then, the moto driver realized to take action to get his sister healthy again, which they believed WAS possible because of Djingui’s testimonials about his own HIV+ status, he needed more money than he had available—moto drivers can usually expect to make $2-3 a day in Maroua.

Djingui brought the moto driver and his sister to us at EFA . . . and through the support that you offered, she got a CD4 test (a test used to measure the strength of the immune system), chest x-rays (she has suspected TB, too), and we paid for her stay at the hospital.

I find this little story remarkable on so many levels . . .

Djingui’s bravery to disclose his own status is remarkable.  His commitment to these strangers is remarkable.

The moto driver’s dedication to his sister is remarkable, when so many families here reject their kids/sisters/brothers upon learning that they are HIV+.

The sister is remarkable for not losing hope as this all got figured out (the health care system is not as transparent as it ought to be!).  And now, she and her brother are officially in the EFA fold!  We are sure that with time they, too, will become outspoken leaders in the fight against HIV just as Djingui is! 

This could not have occurred without your support of our Peer Education Program. You have literally touched so many lives. Thank you for your continued support!!

 

 

PS: We are participating in the Global Giving Match Day on May 7th! Won't you share our work with your friends?

Apr 28, 2014

Closing the Circle of Love Project---THANKS!!!

Hello dear friends,

Did you know that the Circle of Love project started nearly three years ago on a very hot day in Maroua? 

I was a Peace Corps volunteer posted with Education Fights AIDS. I was lucky enough to have my aunt and cousin come to visit. They proposed a day of volunteering with Education Fights AIDS during their visit.  To be honest, I was skeptical.  After all, what could I plan that would be meaningful for all parties given the language and time barriers?

My aunt suggested doing art project with the women of EFA.  I was skeptical of that, too.  After all, I had never done something like that before (mostly because, confession, I am decidedly un-crafty).  And, women in the developing world aren’t usually known for using their time for idle purposes—there is always too much water to haul, too many acres to cultivate, many children to care for…you get the picture. 

And now, looking back I am tremendously glad that I didn’t listen to those voices of skepticism.   

That very-hot day we spent with the 25 HIV+ female members of our associations making a quilt in Maroua proved transformative in many ways. 

On the surface, it was a lovely day that we spent together that offered the women a break from their many responsibilities.  We shared stories and a good meal. 

It could have ended there leaving everyone pleased.    

But it was also that day that sparked the Circle of Love campaign.  Little did you know it would be the day that you became intimately connected with a young, HIV+ Cameroonian.  

Together, over the years, we raised more than $7500 to support the health of 150 young people living with HIV.  The money raised with this campaign has provided CD4 tests and antiretorviral medication.  Quite literally, your support has saved lives. 

How can I possibly thank you for that?  After spending 2 years with the150 people you have supported, I feel like I am thanking you for improving and even saving the lives of members of my family.  How can I thank you for including them in your Circle of Love?

Now, we are at a transition point. Education Fights AIDS is transitioning from an international organization to a Cameroonian led organization. As a part of that transition, we are closing this project to streamline our fundraising efforts. We are going to have one Global Giving Project: Providing HIV services to 20,000 Cameroonian Youth. Would you consider supporting that project? We are so appreciative of your support thus far and your continued involvement and support means the world to us!  If you have any questions or concerns about the transition or about your contributions, please do not hesitate to contact me: caitlynbradburn@gmail.com. I am always more than happy to brag about our association members!    

In Cameroon, people often use the expression “a thousand times over: thank you”.  One thousand times is not enough in this case. 

So, I thank you.  My Cameroonian friends thank you.

A million times over.

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