This fall, FACE AIDS embarked upon a new vision for our programs in Rwanda. After three years of providing employment to make beaded AIDS pins, access to savings and credit, and business training, and after two years of engaging HIV-affected youth in community-based prevention education activities, we recognized our unique opportunity to unite leadership development with economic empowerment. From this, we created what we call the Practical Empowerment Model.
We currently work with 33 chapters of 1,000 young people in rural eastern Rwanda. Earlier this summer, we asked our chapters to design six-month-long community health projects that address a major cause or consequence of HIV/AIDS. Our Rwanda staff recently selected the 10 best proposals, and we have awarded small grants to the 10 chapters to bring their ideas to life. These projects focus on malnutrition, circumcision, maternal and child health, street youth and drug use, and pediatric malaria. FACE AIDS is providing each chapter with training and support throughout the process, including on budgeting, management, procurement, and monitoring and evaluation. Through these projects, we are strengthening the leadership capacity of young Rwandans to tackle the pressing health and development challenges facing their communities.
In addition to the grant for the project, each member of the selected chapters gets a small amount of money to start a revolving savings and credit fund. FACE AIDS helps each chapter open a bank account and decide how the members will invest their funds, how much they will put into savings, and when they’ll repay any loans back to the group. By connecting our chapter members to income, credit, and a safe and reliable way to save, we are providing them with a foundation for long-term financial stability.
It’s our pleasure to announce the 10 chapters that received grants from FACE AIDS in the first year of the Practical Empowerment model! If you’d like more information or if you’re interested in funding a chapter’s project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth Community: Kwisiramuza (Circumcision)
Kayonza District: Circumcision, HIV/AIDS Prevention
As a part of Rwanda’s National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS Reduction, Youth Community has chosen to focus their project on increasing adolescent boys’ access to circumcision. Working with Groupe Scolaire Kadilidimba, they will work intensively with 60 boys in classes Senior 1B and Senior 2A&C to educate them on the benefits of circumcision and address traditional perceptions of the practice. Their workshops will focus on sexual and reproductive health, hygiene, and HIV/AIDS. The chapter will work closely with Rwinkwavu hospital to promote participants’ use of the health centre’s circumcision services. If possible, they hope to negotiate a reduced price for participating boys, of whom they hope 95% will elect to undergo the procedure. G.S. Kadilidimba and Rwinkwavu hospital have already been consulted and have both agreed to collaborate with and support Youth Community for the duration of their program.
Intore Nyamibwa: Kitchen Gardens
Kayonza District: Malnutrition, PLWHA Support
Intore Nyamibwa designed their project to address the needs of vulnerable families in Kabeza Village affected by HIV/AIDS. Malnutrition is chronically detrimental to the health of these families, as many do not know how to eat a balanced diet even if its components are available. Children and people living with HIV are particularly vulnerable to the effects of a bad diet. 10 of the most vulnerable HIV-affected families will be trained in nutrition and hygienic food preparation, given in-home cooking lessons, and supported by the chapter to cultivate a kitchen garden. Each household will be visited thrice a month to monitor the state of their gardens and ensure that they are using techniques learned in their training to eat a nutritious diet. They aim, at the end of the project, through education and with peer mentorship from the families participating in the 6 month project, for 97% of Kabeza village to acquire information on proper nutrition and HIV/AIDS. The chapter will also keep a nursery garden for vegetable seeds. They have the support of Ruhimba Primary School, which has committed to give the chapter a small pot of land for their seed nursery and model garden. The members of Intore Nyamibwa are currently collaborating with their local authorities and community health workers.
Turwane Kubuzima Bwacu: Kurwanya Imirire Mibi (Fighting Malnutrition)
Kayonza District: Malnutrition
Turwane Kubuzima Bwacu developed their project due to visible problems of child malnutrition in Gasarabwayi. They have identified 14 families whose children show signs of malnutrition, such as kwashiorkor. The chapter will draw on their experience in farming to cultivate a model kitchen garden and train each of the selected families to have their own. Each family will be trained in nutrition and food preparation, including cooking lessons in their own homes. Each member of the chapter will have an assigned family to work with for the duration of the project. After 4 months, the chapter aims to see visible improvement in the children of all target families. Chapter members will follow up frequently will all participants to monitor garden progress and ensure that they are using techniques learned in their training to eat a nutritious diet.
New Life Without SIDA: Tugabanye Umuruduko W’ubwandu Bushya Twisiramuza (Reduction of HIV Infection by Circumcision)
Kirehe District: Circumcision, HIV Prevention
As a part of Rwanda’s National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS Reduction, New Life Without SIDA has chosen to focus their project on increasing adolescent boys’ access to circumcision. After talking with over 100 boys at Groupe Scolaire du Gatore, the chapter identified 54 males in Primary 6 and Secondary 1 who want to undergo circumcision but do not have the support or resources to do so. In Gatore, young people are particularly vulnerable to engaging in sex work in exchange for school scholarship. New Life Without SIDA believes that circumcision, along with comprehensive sexual health education, can reduce risk of infection for these young men. GS Gatore administrators have approved the project and will provide time and space for trainings. All participants will be counseled and accompanied by members of New Life Without SIDA throughout the process of education, procedure, and recovery. Participants in the project will, in turn, be able to provide peer mentorship on sexual health.
Turwanye SIDA: Turwanye Imirire Mibi Mubana (Fighting Malnutrition in Children)
Kirehe District: Malnutrition
After observing the prevalence of malnutrition in children under 5 in Cyabihama village, Turwanye SIDA developed their project to create a sustainable way for families to improve their nutrition and reduce the incidence of malnutrition-related diseases. Working with the Gashongora health centre, their chapter will work with selected families whose children under 5 have shown signs of malnutrition. Families will be trained in nutrition, hygienic food preparation, and learn the importance of cleaning water to avoid diarrheal disease. With a demonstration garden, they hope to contribute to the nutritional knowledge of the rest of the community. Regular home visits will be made with families to give cooking lessons and ensure that family members are using the information they gained during training. Turwanye SIDA will carry out this project with the help of nurses from Gashongora health centre, donated space for a demonstration kitchen and training rooms.
Abatoni Ku Ruhimbi: Kurwanya Ibiyobyabwenge Murubyiruko: Gutwara abantu n’ibintu kumagare (Fighting Against Drugs: Bicycle Transport)
Kayonza District: Drug Use, Vulnerable Youth, HIV Prevention
As a chapter near the busy roadside town of Kabarondo, members of Abatoni Ruhimbi have had growing concern over the number of impoverished youth in their community who have turned to drug use and sex work, putting them at high risk for HIV infection. The chapter is now working with 4 young men between 17 and 25 who have had little to no support. The group hopes to rehabilitate these youth by providing them opportunity for employment, counseling them on drug use and HIV/AIDS, and helping them to start a savings group and open a bank account. Abatoni Ku Ruhimbi has already approached the Kabarondo bicycle taxi drivers association, who agreed to accept these 4 youth into their association and welcome them to their profession. In line with the NSP objective for at-risk populations to have comprehensive prevention and support programs, the chapter hopes that through support and counseling they will be able to prevent these youth from engaging in high risk behaviors. The chapter will be working with the support of their local government.
Cool Family (Aspenya School): Gusiramurwa (Circumcision)
Kirehe District: Circumcision, HIV Prevention
As a FACE AIDS chapter made up of students in Aspenya School, members of Cool Family have developed a peer education program with a focus on the NSP objective to increase adolescent access to circumcision. As lack of circumcision is a problem that augments the incidence of sexual transmission of HIV, they proposes a 6 month education program to sensitize boys between 18 and 25 at Aspenya on the benefits of circumcision. 20 boys will be sponsored to go for the procedure. They plan to collaborate with the Nyarubuye Health Centre and have the sponsorship of their school’s administrators.
Tuseme: Tubozene Imirire Tunywa Amazi Meza (Let’s Eat Well and Drink Pure Water)
Kirehe District: Malnutrition
While working in their community, Tuseme recognized malnutrition to be a significant problem in their community after identifying 30 families whose members suffer from malnutrition and diarrheal disease. These families will be trained in nutrition, hygienic food preparation, and learn the importance of cleaning water to avoid diarrheal disease. To encourage good hygiene in the community, they plan on building hand washing stations. Regular home visits will be made with families to give cooking lessons and ensure that family members are using the information they gained during training. Turseme will carry out this project with the help of local authorities and teachers.
Sharp IT Intawarane
Kirehe District: Pediatric Malaria
In Nyawera, malaria is a significant problem, particularly because the village is close to Akagera forest. For their project, Sharp IT plans to reduce the incidence of malaria in children under 5 in 73 families. Child deaths from malaria result from a lack of knowledge on malaria symptoms, and the inability of many families to pay for treatment fees at health centres. For their project, Sharp IT will train families on proper use of mosquito nets, removal of bushes and brush around their houses where mosquitos live, and buy mutuelle for their children. They will also learn about other diseases that are transmitted by mosquito bites. Sharp IT will carry out this project with the support of their sector social workers and Nyawerea Primary School.
Ihorere: Kugabanya Impfu Z’ababyeyi Bapfa Babyara n’abana Bapfa Bavuka (Reducing Maternal and Infant Death During Childbirth)
Kirehe District: Maternal and Infant Health
As a FACE AIDS chapter, Ihorere has worked closely with a social worker in their sector to support vulnerable and pregnant youth. From their experiences with young mothers, they designed a project to increase pregnant women’s uptake of health centre services. Observing that women who do not go to the hospital to give birth and do not go to their health centre for prenatal checkups are more likely to die from complications of childbirth. Their project aims to improve outcome of pregnancy for 15 vulnerable pregnant women between the ages of 17-28. During their project, all of the women will be signed up for Mutuelle de Sante health insurance and given training on maternal health and family planning. They then plan to give each woman a goat to raise as a means of long-term income generation. Ihorere has the support of sector health workers and local authorities and is being given space for meetings and trainings by Rusumo parish.