The EFA staff chose to celebrate World AIDS Day this year by visiting AJUPS (l’Association des Jeunes Unis pour la Promotion de la Sante, or the Association of Young People United for Health Promotion) in Yagoua, one of the newest members of the EFA Youth Network.
Throughout 2014, this vibrant new association has concentrated its efforts on sensitization events in the surrounding community and the establishment of a number of income generation activities. In terms of sensitization, the members of AJUPS have elected to conduct door-to-door visits, in order to identify young people who might benefit from participation in the association. This method has already proven to be successful, as a number of young people have joined the association as a result. The members of AJUPS have been similarly successful with their efforts to generate income to support their activities. The association’s first income generation strategy was the cultivation of a field of white beans (a project made possible by the support of the mayor of Yagoua, the local lamido). Thanks to the foresight of the association’s president, the funds generated from the bean harvest were partially reinvested in next year’s crop, as well as the association’s other income generation activity (the sale of condoms in the community). The remainder of the income from the harvest was used to support CD4 screening for those association members unable to pay for their own health care costs.
The bravery and dedication of the AJUPS members has earned them the respect of their community members, despite the stigma surrounding HIV. Members of the association now feel re-integrated into society, as evidenced by the fact that some have found work outside the association (doing sewing and other odd jobs).
The work of AJUPS has clearly affected many in the community of Yagoua. Some have spoken to EFA about how the association has helped them to understand the situation of young people living with HIV/AIDS:
I have a limited knowledge of AJUPS but I am aware of its activities, namely the community field, condom distribution and the series of educational talks…In my view, it is necessary that people understand that having HIV / AIDS is not the end of life. The members [of the association] offer a shining example of commendable behavior in our society. I now know that I can share water with them… As an external observer, I can say that they need even more support.
Everybody in the EFA family is very proud of the progress that AJUPS has made in the last year, and we look forward to seeing what they accomplish in 2015!