Bonjour les amis,
J’ai le plaisir de vous partager le Rapport Annuel 2011 d’EFA International en francais. Merci a tous ceux qui ont contribué à l’excellent travail et le succès continu de l’EFA International. Nous vous remercions de votre soutien continu. Bientôt, nous allons poster quelques vidéos afin que vous puissiez voir et entendre l’impact positif de votre soutien auprès des membres du Réseau de Renforcement des Jeunes, eux-mêmes. Nous tous, nous vous remercions de votre soutien continu.
Bonne année 2013!
I am pleased to share with you EFA International’s 2011 Annual Report in French. Thank you to all those who contributed to the excellent work and continued success of EFA International. Soon we will post some videos so you can see and hear the impact of your support from members of the Youth Empowerment Network themselves. They, and we, thank you for your continued support.
Happy New Year 2013!
Kathryn Dickens McKissick, Board of Directors]]>
EFA is now accepting applications for a dynamic self-motivated Communications & Development Intern to support our fundraising and social media activities. View the full posting here: http://efainternational.org/how-to-help/volunteer/
Download the 2011 Annual Report (PDF) to learn more about EFA’s recent accomplishments, including:
As a Peace Corps volunteer working in Northern Cameroon, I came to know a timid collection of youth who believed that their HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. In addition to facing the stigma surrounding HIV, they must overcome the burdens of poverty, limited literacy, and in most cases being a woman in a conservatively Muslim society.
Under the shade of a neem tree, they questioned the possibility of their dreams. How long could they live? Should they invest in going to school? Could they ever hope to have a family someday?
Antoinette, shy and tall, spoke of how her husband accused her of bringing HIV to their marriage and abandoned her.
Yaya had been left to die in an isolated room of his family’s compound because his family did not know about life-saving drugs.
Aïssatou, a widow and mother of three, struggled to provide for her children.
Six years later: through education and empowerment, these young people and dozens more like them have been transformed into dynamic, awe-inspiring frontline health workers!
First, they gained the knowledge to manage their own health and live positively. Then, they received a comprehensive HIV peer education training, and became armed with communication and leadership skills to educate others in their communities about HIV and AIDS.
Now these HIV-positive young people reach out to the most vulnerable in their communities. They are uniting in solidarity to face down stigma and providing home-based care as well as psychosocial and financial support to HIV-affected families. They are partnering with the Ministry of Health’s regional directorate and district-level health facilities to ensure that people living with HIV have good relationships with the doctors and nurses there in order to access higher quality preventive care, CD4 tests, and ARVs.
Antoinette recently gave birth to an HIV-negative baby and works as a social worker to ensure that HIV-affected families access the government’s social protection programs.
Yaya is now on ARVs and has been trained in gender-based violence. He works with men to consider their role in negotiating sexual partnerships and condom use to prevent HIV transmission.
Aïssatou can now pay for her children to attend school because she is healthy. She was awarded a scholarship from UNFPA and promotes prevention of mother-to-child transmission in her community. She also travels over bumpy roads to the border town of Kousseri to train sex workers on how to get tested and become peer educators and promoters of safe sex.
These peer educators are the missing link between communities and health care services. They are cost-effective and they promote social accountability. As so eloquently stated by the speakers at Tuesday’s AIDS 2012 session on health workers, these armies of patient navigators, peer educators, and frontline health workers will play a key role in turning the tide on the AIDS epidemic.
Reposted from original blog: http://capacityplus.org/frontline-health-workers-key-link-turning-tide-hiv]]>
Here are video greetings from Andrew and Rachel at the AIDS 2012 conference: English Francais
Education, in particular HIV/AIDS education, is the cornerstone of EFA’s strategy to improve the condition of life for the associations and members of our Youth Empowerment Network. Peace Corps Volunteer Caitlyn Bradburn paved the way when she created the Peer Education program. The Peer Education program was designed to give association members, regardless of previous education, monetary situation, or ability to read or write, the opportunity to not only educate themselves on HIV and AIDS, but to serve as educators for their peers also infected or affected by HIV and AIDS in their community. It sought to empower our members to not only live positively themselves,but to promote positive living and reduce stigma and discrimination in their communities. Caitlyn, Alim, and Amada served as the new program trainers.
When I arrived as the next Peace Corps Volunteer to serve with EFA International, it was clear this program was a huge success. Members felt empowered and attitudes and behaviors of both HIV-positive and HIV-negative people in the community were changing. I thought to myself: this is great, but how can it be better? I realized, the previous Volunteer had created this empowering and effective program, but now my role was to make it sustainable, to make it EFA’s program and not the Volunteer’s.
I approached Alim and Amada, the trusty and dedicated staff of the regional office in Cameroon with an idea… what if we trained existing motivated and talented Peer Educators as volunteer program trainers? Though they thought the task would be difficult, they were immediately on board. What better way to further empower EFA Youth Empowerment Network members? What better way to ensure that the program can and will exist without a Peace Corps Volunteer?
With the help of star Peer Educator/Trainer Pehlem Therese, whose excellence and passion for peer education had actually already secured her as a Peer Education trainer, I set off to design my project and with the support from a VAST/PEPFAR grant and contributions from EFA International, including those from Global Giving. My project began in late November 2011.
Candidates for the new trainer position underwent a preliminary application and testing process, from which we selected four Peer Educators to continue on to the training round. These four candidates then participated in an 8-day intensive Training of Trainers, which included identifying training needs, facilitation, and leadership techniques. Finally,all the candidates gained practical experience by serving as the lead trainers in an actual EFA Peer Education cycle for members of AJUBS Kousseri under my supervision and the supervision of Pehlem and Amada. Even though the project was long and difficult, watching the improvement of these four candidates from the initial interview process to the final trainings they delivered has beeninspiring. In addition, seeing Pehlem continue her personal and professional growth and rise to the challenge of being a leader has been one of the greatest highlights of my service. Not only have they all succeeded themselves, but they successfully trained 8 new peer educators in Kousseri, a training success rateof 80 percent with the highest average post-training test score of any PeerEducation cycle and EFA’s first post-test score of 100%!
I am so proud to announce EFA International Cameroon’s five volunteer Peer Education Trainers, who successfully completed their training and practical in March 2012:
Pehlem Therese, AJEPS Maroua
Asta Madeline, AJEPS Maroua
Salihou, ASSYSGOD Godola
Aissatou Moussa, AJUBS Kousseri
Henriette Maidouwe, AJUBS Kousseri
Please join me in congratulating their hard work and welcoming them to the EFA team! This success is due not only to their hard work, but also to the generous support of our donors. Please help EFA to continue this positive momentum!]]>
There are countless instances where the members, all young people infected or affected with HIV, have overcome significant obstacles to fight stigma and to help assure fair access to medical treatment.
One of the most incredible stories of late is about Sarah and the lion of stigma that the association members tied up. Sarah is a member of EFA’s Youth Empowerment Network and during this past year, her HIV progressed to such a degree that she had to begin anti-retroviral treatment to stay healthy.
The stigma in this story came from Sarah’s mother who refused to allow her daughter to take the medication and instead saw her HIV+ status as a punishment and blamed Sarah for becoming infected in the first place.
Sarah’s fellow association members flew into action. They first gained the support and understanding of Sarah’s siblings. The siblings and some of the association members approached Sarah’s mother and convinced her to care for and support her daughter on her road to recovery. However, the story does not end there. The support of the associations did not end there. The association members visited Sarah time and time again. It became evident that even though the mother was now committed to helping Sarah and caring for her, she did not know how to best help.
The association members flew into action again to support Sarah with individualized trainings for Sarah and her mother about the ins and outs of treatment, adherence, dosage and timing. Over the course of just a few weeks, Sarah’s improvement was dramatic. She is doing more than just surviving, she is thriving. The network of support has surely saved Sarah’s life.
Through the Circle of Love, you can help to assure that we have more stories like Sarah’s. The formula is simple…assure that people have access to the medical treatment that they need and provide the social support so that the treatments are successful.
With your support, as another “spider”, we can continue to tie up more lions. Thank you for uniting with us and for joining in our efforts.]]>
As part of the EFA family, I invite you to join me as I share a few of the highlights of my past year with EFA and our Youth Empowerment Network members in Cameroon. After all, it is your continued support that makes all that we do possible.
“The education on sexual and gender-based violence started with me first; I really had no idea about these issues before and how they could really change our lives.”—YEN member
My first project with EFA in Cameroon was in collaboration with TrustAfrica and it was divided into three main parts:
Gender, violence, and equality are not the easiest topics to discuss in Cameroon, and being new EFA and to the country, it was even more challenging. However, the rewards of this project far outweigh any personal challenges. I know that for most of our Peer Educators this was the first time they had ever talked openly about SGB-V and equality. Many women didn’t consider themselves equal; many thought that men were in fact born more intelligent and therefore had more rights and should be given more opportunities. We discussed ideas about gender roles and decision-making in the household, about communication between partners, and about how violence fuels the HIV epidemic. Each Peer Educator talked about strategies that they could implement in their own household to promote equality and about strategies that they could employ as peer educators in promoting SGB-V prevention and equality in their communities.
Our Peer Educators were so moved by the knowledge they gained in the training that they educated more than 8,000 community members in just one month—which was 3,000 more than projected!
One of EFA’s founding values is to promote positive prevention and the engagement of HIV-positive individuals in the fights against HIV/AIDS. We do this through many avenues, but primarily through small employment and volunteer opportunities. We train members as peer educators and encourage their work as volunteer educators both in their communities and in others. Our Peer Educators are amazing resources for the communities we serve and for new communities who would like to improve or establish their own HIV prevention, care, or support activities. This past year I facilitated two important collaboration projects.
The first was in Hina, a conservative and rural village in the Far North region. The Peace Corps volunteer in Hina organized a summer long football (soccer!) tournament, which interweaved HIV education before each game. For the closing ceremonies, an HIV-positive, female EFA peer educator delivered the closing speech. The volunteer later told me:
“It was amazing! In a village where no one would even utter the letters HIV, everyone was talking about how an HIV-positive WOMAN was openly talking about HIV, how strong and healthy she was, and that maybe you CAN live a healthy and full life with HIV.”
The second was in Adoumri, a rural village in the North region. There a Peace Corps volunteer led a PEPFAR funded project to train the nurses and healthcare workers at her health center in Pre and Post-test HIV Counseling, to educate members of the community on HIV prevention, and to offer free, voluntary HIV testing for 2 days at their health center. I worked with three of our EFA Peer Educators that work at the Maroua Center for Voluntary HIV Testing to design and implement a half day training for the project. We recruited 20 EFA Peer Educators to volunteer their time to spend day of educating the community on prevention and the importance of knowing your status. Thanks to our activities over 2,000 people were reached by education messages and 800 people were tested for HIV! In 2012, we hope to continue our work in Adoumri and help the volunteer start an association of people living with HIV to provide much needed care and support services.
One day EFA staffers Alim, Amada, and I were discussing how great it would be if we had a computer that our members could use; unfortunately we didn’t have money in the budget for such a purpose. My birthday was quickly approaching and on a whim I sent out a request to friends and family, asking them to donate on my behalf, to a computer fund. Two weeks later, my friends and family had more than tripled my request. What would be the best use of these funds?
We discussed the possibility of providing access to computer-based training and education in language, literacy, math, business, and communication and information technologies. How this training and education for HIV+ youth would build confidence, increase employable skills, and create new opportunities for communication, outreach and advocacy. Education and training for the orphans and vulnerable children of HIV+ youth in our network would help them to succeed in school and encourage them to continue with their education. The Youth Empowerment Center was born.
Currently, the center is in its infancy. We used the money to build a small room, which houses our two computers. Members and their families can use these computers, which have internet access, at their convenience. In 2012, we plan on holding computer-skills training workshops in areas such as Computer Basics, Word, Excel, and Internet, Communication and Social Media. In the long-term we hope that will help HIV+ youth and their families to improve the condition of their lives and use their skills to become educated leaders dedicated to preventing HIV and AIDS, reducing HIV and AIDS related stigma and discrimination, and advocating for rights and access to care for HIV+ individuals in their communities and around the world.
In the midst of all these projects, what has been the most moving and inspirational for me, is the bonds between our members within their association, among the associations throughout the region, with the EFA regional staff, and even members of EFA International Board of Directors. These bonds form a safety net of care and support for these youth infected or affected by HIV/AIDS and their families. From daily interactions, to life-changing events, these bonds provide the strength and support to not only live HIV-positive, but to thrive. Over the past year I have seen the positive effects of these bonds on countless occasions, but two in particular stand out.
During this past year, Sarah*, a YEN association member fell ill and as a result she was placed on ARV medication. Sadly, her mother refused to accept her HIV+ status and as a result prevented her daughter from taking her medication, instead blaming her for becoming infected. Fellow association members heard about Sarah’s problem and after gaining the support of her siblings succeeded in convincing her mother to care for her child and support her in her road to recovery. Over the next few weeks, association members frequently visited Sarah, and found that her condition was not improving. It became clear, that although the mother wanted to help, she didn’t know what to do or how to help her daughter adhere to her ARV treatment. Again, association members went to her house and talked to both her and her mother about the treatment, dosage, and timing. A few weeks later, an association member was at the office. She had just been to visit Sarah and was telling me how much better her condition had gotten. The safety net had saved Sarah’s life.
On a lighter note, a few weeks ago I was honored to participate in a douba for one of our association members, Aissatou. A douba is basically a traditional wedding shower where female friends and family gather to give presents, dance, and eat together. After losing her husband to what she later found out was AIDS, and discovering her own status, Aissatou never though she would get married again. However, joining her association changed her life. Today, she is the president of her association and one of the strongest women I have ever met. She takes pride that she is in a healthy relationship where she and her soon-to-be husband are partners who communicate and share responsibilities and decision-making. I couldn’t help but smile the whole night, especially in seeing the members of her association and others, now her close friends, sharing much laughter and love.
These stories only give a brief glimpse into the multitude of new and existing programs and projects that EFA International has led during my one year. Though 2011 is coming to an end, our activities in Cameroon are continuing full speed ahead. To continue our important work, we need your support now more than ever. Please consider supporting EFA International, our activities, and the Youth Empowerment Network in one or all of the following ways:
EFA International has changed my life; I challenge you to let it change yours.
We are together, nous sommes ensemble.
In the absence of a cure for HIV, for the past 30 years this question has been the center of debate. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to the fight against AIDS, recent research has given us a glimmer of hope—and may have finally ended this debate.
In May, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released results from the HPTN 052 study which indicate that putting an HIV-positive person on treatment as soon as HIV infection was detected reduced the risk of them transmitting the virus to their sexual partners by 96%. Ninety-six percent. The evidence was so compelling that the trial was actually ended early and results published years before expected. For anyone who has worked in the uncertainty of research, this just doesn’t happen.
EFA’s beneficiaries have experienced these benefits first-hand. Since receiving treatment, their improved health status has empowered them to become HIV advocates, peer educators, and leaders in their communities, gaining the respect of those who once stigmatized them.
Today, on World AIDS Day 2011, over 50 EFA peer educators are conducting community-wide education events in over ten communities. Some members are sitting down with local religious and traditional leaders to explain how they can help achieve an AIDS-free generation. Others are going door-to-door, encouraging people to get tested for HIV at the local health center, and describing why an AIDS-free generation is important to their community.
We have the technology. For the first time ever we can actually see the way forward. We can envision an AIDS-free generation. Not a generation free of HIV, but free of AIDS.
So, forget the debate—treatment IS prevention. Putting people living with HIV on treatment early will not only extend their lives, but will also prevent new HIV infections among their HIV-negative sexual partners.
The tragedy is that this innovative and groundbreaking research comes at a time of declining levels of funding for HIV, of donor “fatigue” for financing national HIV programs, and of re-shifting priorities away from HIV strategies and towards broader health sector initiatives.
The United States government has taken a significant step. During a speech delivered by Secretary Clinton at the National Institutes of Health in November, she re-committed the U.S. government’s development efforts towards supporting the global AIDS response in achieving an AIDS-free generation. It is time for other governments to meet this call.
Since 2005, EFA has supported children, youth, and families in Cameroon. Our Youth Empowerment Network supports HIV positive youth in nine communities in northern Cameroon and provides ongoing support through education, empowerment, and enterprise.
Through our Peer Education program our members learn the tools they need to stay healthy, live positively, and they receive education on antiretroviral drug adherence and strategies. Our peer education program trains members to go out into their communities and educate others about the basics of HIV transmission and prevention, and the importance of getting tested.
In 2011, our peer educators provided basic HIV education to over 20,000 people, and over 5,000 people were referred to their local health center to get an HIV test.
We empower our members to advocate for their rights. In September, when all of the public hospitals in northern Cameroon hit six months without the laboratory reagents necessary for monitoring the efficacy of their treatment regimens, members of the Youth Empowerment Network visited a private hospital in the area and negotiated that all members of EFA’s network would be able to access these important monitoring tests at the private clinic, while paying the normal public facility costs.
We promote enterprise through collective and individual income-generating activities. Our members work together to create employment opportunities for themselves and other association members, so that they may financially provide for their own medical needs and for their families.
We are proud of our work and proud of the accomplishments of our HIV-positive beneficiaries. We have turned a new page in the HIV response. Today, on World AIDS Day 2011, it is time for us to look back at all we have accomplished and look to the future. Look towards an AIDS-free generation. We can do it. We can reach that goal through our collective efforts. We can do this together.
EFA is doing its part and we would like to graciously thank you for the support you’ve given us over the past six years. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you, but we’ve still got a long way to go and count on your continued support.
We are together. Nous sommes ensemble,
Co-Founder and Member, Board of Directors
Irene* is petite, with almond-shaped eyes and a brillant smile. She is married with one child and an eighth grade education. Irène is HIV-epositive. These facts alone are enough to make her story brave, exceptional. Many women in northern Cameroon are told than an HIV diagnosis is a death sentence and are rejected by their families.
In 2006, Irène connected with EFA International, where she met with other HIV-positive individuals and learned how to stay healthy and live positively. She underwent EFA’s comprehensive 6-month peer education training and now teaches her village about the importance of HIV prevention. That they can protect their children and families from the scourges of AIDS in a country where one in 20 adults has HIV. That they too can defy stigma and face an ominous diagnosis to manage what has become chronic disease: requiring daily awareness, discipline, and resources, but something that does not keep them from following and fulfilling their dreams.
Then I learned that Irène was suffering from a uterine tumor. The unmonitored tumor had grown to such extent that she could feel its presence by pressing on her abdomen. If Irène was not operated on immediately, then she would not survive. She did not have the money to receive the operation. Could we step in to save the life of a woman in whom we had invested so much, and who had given so much in return?
Some colleagues warned that if EFA officially stepped in, it would open a floodgate of medical requests. Most of EFA’s youth empowerment network members do not have the luxury of insurance or extra income to cover health emergencies and rely on family and friends. But I could not stop thinking about Irène’s smile, her energy and willingness to give back to something greater.
A week passed. I received an update from EFA’s regional office. Irène’s community, family and friends had collected the money she needed for the operation. EFA saved Irène because its programs had empowered her. Her village valued the hope and knowledge that Irene was giving to young people. Irène is more than her HIV status. She is a change agent within her community.
Unfortunately, we cannot pay the hospital bills of each individual. Our Circle of Love project has just been launched on GlobalGiving to fill financial gaps so HIV-positive individuals can afford medical tests. But EFA’s peer education empowers HIV-positive individuals to mobilize and know how, when, and where to seek medical care. By staying healthy and practice safe behaviors, they are less likely to transmit HIV within their communities. This positive prevention is one of EFA’s core values.
* Name has been changed to protect individual’s privacy.]]>