| Oct 13, 2023
Empowering HIV-Affected Women in South Africa
Meet Rose, the Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI) Graduate leading change to empower young girls in South Africa. Rose completed her undergraduate degree in Medical Anthropology from Okayama University in Japan, where she received the director's award for showing the most outstanding academic and community engagement performance.
Rose's life changed when her mother passed away due to HIV. The loss was difficult for her, but she used her grief to fuel a passion for leading change in her community. “I lived with a parent who contracted HIV,” she says. “I do not want to see another girl go through what I experienced.”
South Africa accounts for one-fifth of people infected with HIV globally, with most new infections occurring amongst women. To solve the problem, in July 2021, while still an undergraduate student, Rose started Tina, an organization that provides young girls with training in entrepreneurship, financial freedom, sexual health, and many other essential topics. “I launched a fundraising campaign on my birthday to bring my vision to life and raised 500 dollars,” she recalls. “I secured partnerships with a clinic for HIV testing and with the police department for self-defense classes.” TINA's first project, a six-day workshop held in February 2022, offered 80 high school girls training in entrepreneurship, health, teenage pregnancy, sex education, and applying for scholarships abroad.
In addition to her undergraduate studies, Rose completed an internship with a health care and medical device manufacturing company in Kyoto, Japan. She also attended Unleash, an innovation lab for young change makers in India. “I intend to use the leadership, problem-solving skills, and network I gained in these different experiences to bring my dream to life,” she says.
Shortly after finishing her undergraduate degree, Rose joined the Moremi Initiative in Ghana, a leadership program awarded annually to 25 outstanding young women who have exhibited leadership potential in their community. “The fellowship equipped me with a solid support system of women change-makers and the necessary skills to build a solid foundation for Tina and increase its impact beyond my immediate community,” she says.
May 27, 2018, the day she received the call with the offer from Ashinaga, was a turning point in her life: “On the 27th of May 2017, my mother passed away because of HIV. A year later, it became the day I received a full scholarship from Ashinaga.” Looking back on her journey with the AAI, Rose says, “The different activities and support in the AAI leadership program ignited something in me. They gave me a push in the right direction. I am more confident in who I am and what I stand for, my voice, and my story. I want to pay it forward and empower women to be at the forefront of change. I want to create an organization for women, by women.”
Thanks to your generosity, we can continue supporting excellent African students like Rose who have such a positive impact on their communities!