EFA International’s regional staff identifies potential new associations by collaborating first with the regional AIDS coordinating body, the HIV Regional Technical Group (also known by its French acronym, GTR), and other implementing development partners, such as CARE International, in order to strategically identify high risk communities for the establishment of new groups.
Once these communities are identified, EFA works with staff from local hospitals and health centers and community leaders. Groups of HIV+ youth interested in becoming part of the Youth Network are also welcome to apply directly to the regional staff to request consideration. For example, the GTR in the Extreme North province has assisted EFA in identifying two high-risk communities on the borders of Nigeria and Chad, respectively, where EFA is now working to establish associations.
Once a potential new group is identified, it is developed according to the EFA Youth Empowerment Network model. First, the group is assigned an experienced member, or Technical Assistant, from another existing Youth Network member association to serve as a mentor during the early stages of the new group. This experienced member is selected by a coordination committee comprised of representatives from all existing associations and EFA member staff. Any existing member can apply for this short-term consultancy position with EFA. The coordination committee assesses and selects new Technical Assistants.
The Technical Assistant, along with one or two members of the regional staff, is responsible for attending a number of group meetings to assess the current capacities of the group in areas such as leadership and financial management. The Technical Assistant, as a member of an existing EFA Youth Network association, is also expected to share the benefits and responsibilities of membership in the EFA Youth Network.
After the Technical Assistant has attended at least three group meetings, the group in question must vote on whether or not to request membership in the EFA network. If membership is desired, the group must send a letter of request to EFA explaining why they’d like to be part of the Youth Network. In order to be accepted as a “Group in Training”, the group must meet the following requirements:
- A majority of group members must be between 15-35 years old;
- The Executive Officers of the group must all be between 15-35 years old;
- The group must have at least seven active members; and
- The group must have held at least three meetings where a Technical Assistant from EFA’s Youth Network was in attendance.
Groups in Training
HIV+ youth groups are considered “Groups in Training” from the moment they address their request letter to EFA until they complete their legal registration with the local government.
EFA sponsors several activities for Groups in Training:
- EFA conducts an overall needs and resource assessment in order to identify strengths and weaknesses and to assist with prioritizing interventions.
- EFA assists the group in becoming officially recognized by the local government, which in turn enables them to receive external funding, open a bank account, and function like other community-based organizations.
- EFA provides each group with targeted trainings, which are designed according to the needs identified in the overall assessment.
- In addition, all groups benefit from seven general trainings:
- HIV 101 for Young People Living with HIV/AIDS
- Behavior Change Communication
- How to work together as an association
- Nutrition for Young People Living with HIV/AIDS
- Action Plans, Budgets and Reports
- Project Management and Management of Income Generation Activities
- Conflict Resolution Workshop
The Technical Assistants play an integral role in all activities and trainings designed for Groups in Training.
Once an association achieves its legal status with the local government, a group becomes an official member of the Youth Network.