Let's keep girls in school

by American Foundation for Children with AIDS
Let's keep girls in school

Yes, in some areas around the world, girls miss school simply because they do not have enough money to purchase sanitary pads.  It boggles the mind to think that this is the situation for a huge number of girls – girls who want to go to school, to hold down a job, to go through life without drawing much attention to themselves.  But, biology dictates that these things might not happen because these girls have no way to purchase pads and once a month, they must stay home or everyone will soon know that they are menstruating.

I know that this topic is not one we all discuss openly, but here at AFCA, it is a topic we think about, talk about, and plan for. With that in mind, this summer, volunteers are on their way to Kenya where they will conduct two weeks of intensive sewing classes, teaching women and older girls how to make feminine hygiene kits.  These kits last an average of three years and are reusable and washable, saving the girls a huge amount of money and allowing them to return to their daily activities.

A container of medical and school supplies is being cleared at the Mombasa, Kenya port as I type this and in that container, there is a bit of joy happening!  We have 6 sewing machines, boxes and boxes of cloth, sewing notions (scissors, needles, pins, pin cushions, cutting boards, buttons, snaps, etc), patterns, underwear, soap, washcloths, and a healthy helping of love.  All these items will be used to build the kits.  We also have a huge number of already-completed kits so that participating women and girls receive a kit right off the bat, allowing them to participate in the training even if they are menstruating. 

When we arrive in mid-June, we’ll start with eye exams to make sure all can see properly.  If they need them, we have glasses, too!  Then, while 16 women start working on kit making, 60 children will learn how to mend, sew buttons, and do other things mothers usually teach their children. As most of these children are orphaned, these are skills they do not have. After much practice time, the graduates from the tailoring school should be able to make their own kits and then, they are ready for training in marketing, budgeting, and sales. WHEW!  What an incredible summer we are about to experience together!

None of this would happen without you, so THANK YOU.  Thank you for giving a future to these women and girls!

With all my heart,

Tanya, for the trainees

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Alyssa
Alyssa

We would like to give our supportive donors an update on Alyssa who was enrolled in the clinic in August 2007. As with many of the children we meet, Alyssa’s situation was difficult with limited income and little access to food or medical care.  She lived with her grandmother who has always been her greatest supporter! 

Through the support of our school program, Alyssa’s health has greatly improved over the years and her viral load results are undetectable.  She has been an active member of the support group, which has really helped her grow. She was a member of kids support group and now she is an active member of youth support group. This type of support was invaluable in giving Alyssa a positive outlook on life and convinced her to take her medical needs seriously.  Alyssa then joined Marianist College for their hair dressing course.  This was a two-year course and she graduated in May 2016.

When we recently checked back in with Alyssa, she expressed her appreciation for the support of the American Foundation for Children with AIDS in helping to make her dream come true to become a hair dresser. Please know that your generosity has truly made a difference in Alyssa’s life, and many others in our program.  With our partners on the ground, the children and their families receive the support and monitoring they need to make this a very successful project.  We are changing lives day after day.  Alyssa feels your love, and so do we at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS.

Alyssa Acting in a Play
Alyssa Acting in a Play
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Youth 1
Youth 1

We're counting our blessings this holiday season at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS.  It's been a great year and we have some incredible projects lined up for 2017.  All of them with the intention of helping HIV+ children and their caregivers break the cycle of poverty!

Our youth recently enjoyed a trip to Galaxy Voi Resort where they met with youth from three other facilities.  This was a joyful moment for them as they interacted with each other.  They were able to share their experiences and the challenges they face being HIV+.  Our youth had fun!  It helped each of them to see himself /herself as important and one who should live his life fully as there many people living with the HIV+ virus.  Some of the youth have even volunteered to be the peer mentors in the facility!

During the visit, the youth had time to be in groups and share their challenges and successes in life. Many of the youth have been able to live their life positively.  Most of them have been able to attend school at the primary, secondary, universities and also vocational training levels.  They were given time to discuss the challenges they face going forward.  Some of these challenges include:

-Time management

-Fear of disclosure

-Stigma

-Discrimination by friends

-Lack of support by the family members

-Being rejected as they want to enter into a relationship after they disclose their status to their partners

-Fear of asking permission for apppointments and bosses asking questions about their sickness

Consider how difficult it must be to face these challenges at such a young age.  Your generosity is making a difference in lives of these children and young adults.  Thank you for supporting our work!  As you make your end of the year giving decisions, please keep us in mind so we can continue helping children in 2017 and beyond.  We wish you the best year ever, full of every blessing and happiness imaginable, knowing you are a hope-giver.  If you'd like to learn even more about what we do or how you can meet some of the children you have helped, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

Youth 2
Youth 2
Youth 3
Youth 3
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Zara
Zara

Let me introduce you to Zara, a child who was enrolled in our program in 2010.  She was diagnosed HIV+ after the death of her mother.  Zara now lives with her aunt who has always been supportive, even though caring for Zara can be challenging.  A home visit was done for pyschosocial support for Zara and her family.  Through the support of her family, she was able to join kids club where health talks are done.  These talks were very helpful in understanding her health needs.  Zara is also an active member of the youth support group at the facility.

Through the support of our education program, Zara is in class five at the academy.  She is bright and did extremely well on her last exam.  Zara's health is good, which gives her the opportunity to study hard and achieve her goals.

Your continued support of our education programs has made all of this possible for Zara and the other girls in our programs.  Thank you for caring for these young lives.  You have blessed them beyond measure!

If you have questions or are interested in learning more about this program or others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@afcaids.org.

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I'm in Africa visiting our programs this summer.  I'm so pleased to share updates with you right from the field.  I was in Mombasa for several days and visited Furaha, a girl whose been in the program for many years. At 17, she finished high school and is now in tailoring school.  We want to support her throughout this difficult transitional time, as she needs to get a skill and start putting it to use if she is going to break the cycle of poverty.  I walk into a poorly lit sewing school where 20 girls are learning how to sew.  The low hum of voices is heard over the hum of treadle machines as we arrive for an unplanned visit.  The teacher is walking through the tables, looking at work being done.

Suddenly, she stands up and says, “Tanya!” in such a tender way, it brings tears to my eyes and we wrap our arms around each other.  I am touched that she remembered me so quickly, even though I would know her anywhere.  She's been in our program since she was 8, so she is family to me. We hug for a while and I am so glad to see her.  She looks well and she is proud of getting a skill. She shows me a pair of shorts she made and when i hold the up to my waist, all the girls break out laughing.   I encourage her to keep going, to do well, to excel in what she does and I find myself promising her a sewing machine if she completes the highest course so that she can start a business.  It will take her three years to get a diploma and let her know how proud we are of her to embark in this career. As I encourage her not to give up, I know I am asking for much as every single day, she must make the decision between eating lunch or taking a bus to school.  Sometimes she doesn’t have the 20 cents required for the bus, so she misses school, but she assures me she will do her best, which is all we want from and for her.

(I'm unable to upload photos from the field, as internet access has been spotty.  We will upload a photo of Furaha when Tanya return to the USA.)

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Organization Information

American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania United States
$14,578 raised of $20,000 goal
 
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