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Hope is the Spark that Changes Lives

I have been a medical missionary doctor working in East Africa the past 33 years. Also, I’m the founder and CEO of the two St. Mary’s Mission Hospitals in Kenya, which serve over 300,000 lower-income patients annually.  It is indeed my pleasure to write this letter of recommendation regarding the American Foundation For Children With AIDS  (“AFCA”).  Over the past eight years that we’ve been receiving help from  AFCA, our respect for this organization has only increased.

The AFCA is a small organization, strongly focused upon its mission goal as stated in its name. What I find especially admirable about AFCA is that it has avoided heavy administrative structures and excess personnel in carrying out its goal of helping kids with AIDS, with a resultant extremely low administrative overhead in its operation.   Despite being a very small organization with minimal staff, the AFCA has made a huge impact in the lives of many people here in Kenya.  Any assist we ask from AFCA they go out of their way to provide.  For example, before government-run AIDS programs were in place here in Kenya, we relied heavily upon AFCA for all our antiretroviral meds. Similarly, they funded the HIV screening of pregnant women at our facilities, and the meds needed to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV.  Tanya Weaver, the director, went far out of her way to help source a nutrition supplement that helps AIDS patients, and repeatedly arranged internal US and overseas shipping of this product to our hospitals in Kenya. That required a considerable amount of time and organization, which Tanya Weaver volunteered. 

We of St. Mary’s Mission Hospitals have been working together with AFCA in providing medical education outreach (using volunteers from our Kenyan staff) to hospitals in several other countries in Africa. These educational seminars are organized by AFCA, and have been a tremendous success in upgrading medical personnel in the neonatal resuscitation of babies.

Similarly, AFCA has been of tremendous help to our low-income patients with HIV infection who develop resistance to first-line ARV medications. Just recently, AFCA was responsible for us getting free access to a new ARV medicine that is just coming out onto the market. This required a massive amount of communication between AFCA and the pharmaceutical company just releasing this new med.

The AFCA also assists our mission hospital by receiving and forwarding donations from our hospitals’ friends in the States on a monthly basis. This is a tremendous help, which the tiny staff of AFCA does for us out of good will.

In summary, the American Foundation For Children With AIDS has consistently demonstrated itself as an ethical, focused organization that truly lives up to its non-profit status. Although it is a small organization with minimal staff and administrative expenses, it has made, and continues to make a tremendous difference in the lives of the poor here in Kenya. This organization has my highest recommendation. It uses its donor funds extremely well in locally-relevant programs, with minimal administrative costs.  

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Bill Fryda, M.D. 

Diplomate,  American Board of Internal Medicine (Mayo Clinic)
Diplomate,  American Board of Hematology (Mayo Clinic)
Recipient, Mayo Clinic Distinguished Alumnus Award for Humanitarian Service

St. Mary’s Mission Hospital, P.O. Box 3409 – 00506, Nairobi, KENYA
e-mail: 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The recent unfavorable portrayal of AFCA in an unfair and untrue article by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting.

We have read the unfair and untrue article on our partner, AFCA, by the Tampa Bay Times about nonprofit organizations that don’t do what they told people they were doing and that they steal and that they don’t help anyone.  We have this to say:

Papoli Community Development Foundation came into partnership with AFCA in 2010 and from that year we have had very fruitful collaboration in saving and improving the lives of our underserved children and in particular children that are infected at birth by the deadly AIDS virus.

  1. We at Papoli have received to date 4 (four) 40 ft containers (as I write now we are stripping the 4th container) of donated medical supplies, clinic equipment, hygiene and education supplies.
  2. Our technical staffs have had training facilitated by professionals from Nairobi, Kenya, all sponsored by AFCA.
  3. The medical supplies and clinic equipment that we received have been very useful to our community members and we also shared with other health facilities in Uganda, such as Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, Tororo General Hospital and other 7 health centres in Tororo district.
  4. The school supplies AFCA sends have been distributed to Papoli primary school and other 5 neighboring schools and very important have been the girl child sanitary pads that has dramatically improved on the overall school attendance of girls.
  5. AFCA provided a means for Cooley Clinic to make some money, which lead to the building of warehouse and office premises.
  6. The AFCA leadership have make annual visits to our organization, where we have had very fruitful discussions and planning too.

For the 4 years we have partnered and worked together with AFCA.  We appreciate they have kept their promises and we look forward to many more years of working together.

Sincerely, for and On behalf of the people of Papoli.

Emmanuel Ofumbi.
Executive Director, PACODEF 
Papoli Village 16 Km, Tororo-Jinja Highway
P.O.Box 1143, Tororo. Uganda.

 

ReachGlobal, the international mission of the EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America) has partnered with AFCA (American Foundation for Children with AIDS) since around 2008. I personally, on staff with EFCA and working primarily in DR Congo, have had many interactions with AFCA leadership, both face to face and by email, and have witnessed their heart of compassion and integrity as they have partnered with us in DR Congo. ReachGlobal ministers alongside its sister denomination in Congo, CECU (Communaute Evangelique du Christ en l’Ubangi), a denomination of over 900 churches in the northwest corner of Congo.

CECU has an HIV and AIDS department, as well as a large hospital (Tandala), two smaller hospitals and around 35 health centers. Their health ministry is managed and staffed by Congolese medical personnel, and our goal in ReachGlobal is to train and equip them, releasing them to better serve their people and communities.

AFCA has been amazing in partnering with us to attain our mission. Here are just some of the ways that they have served us and the CECU church in Ubangi, Congo:

  1. Over the past 3 years, they have totally funded two large training seminars to better equip medical personnel and the Church in their  battle against HIV and AIDS. They connected us with excellent African teachers, Kenyan doctors, and paid all of their expenses to train our medical personnel. These were 10 day seminars, and all expenses were paid by AFCA. The seminars were excellent, on the following topics:
    1. General HIV and AIDS education for health professionals
    2. PMCT of HIV – this was an incredible training, bringing together health professionals and local midwives and village chiefs.
  2. Over these past 5 years, AFCA has been providing HIV testing kits as well as antibiotics for HIV positive children in our health centers and hospital. These supplies are sent every quarter, as the medical director at Tandala Hospital  provides the reporting and order for the following 3 months.
  3. Just recently, I was in Congo when a container full of medical supplies arrived at the port in Akula, Congo. Just the shipping of  this container cost tens of thousands of dollars alone! The supplies had to be transported by a 20 ton truck in  two loads, and I was at Tandala Hospital when the unloading happening. It was a joyful time as I watched the staff, so grateful for the beds, medicines, bandages, birthing kits, sutures, instruments. Beautiful solar panels and water filters were sent out…after the Director for AFCA, Tanya Weaver, visited some of the health centers a couple of years ago, she was amazed that nurses were delivering babies with a flashlight! And that none of them had good, clean water to offer at their clinics. Thus, the solar panels and water filters.The supplies filled a whole storage area – the doctor and staff who oversee the outlying health centers are delivering the beds, solar panels, and birthing kits to around 16 health centers.
  4. AFCA has also provided livestock and seed to help those who are living with HIV and have children who are HIV positive. Through these gifts, they provide some income for these families, and a better nutrition for those who are often sick.
  5. We cannot thank AFCA enough for all they have and are doing in our corner of Congo, and area basically without electricity and clean, running water. AFCA has visited and travelled in our area a couple of times, and are planning another trip. When in Congo, they endure harsh living conditions and difficult – next to impossible! – travel. But they want to make sure their supplies are making it to the right people, and they want to listen and hear the needs of the Congolese themselves.

We are very grateful to AFCA for their partnership with us and with the Congolese Churches CECU. And we have also been extremely impressed with their follow-up and accountability.

Sincerely,

Rachel Martin
EFCA ReachGlobal
GlobalFingerprints CONGO Coordinator

www.efca.org
www.globalfingerprints.org

 

 

healthy babiesThe American Foundation for Children with AIDS  (AFCA) helps clinics/hospitals care for HIV+ children and their guardians/caregivers in four different Sub-Saharan countries – Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  These partners vary wildly in their levels of modernization and means.  They range from full service hospitals with electricity to dried mud hut clinics.  This means our ways of helping them must vary also. 

In Mombasa, Kenya, AFCA has helped the Community Based Health Care and AIDS Relief Project (CBHC) in 2005.  While I was there in January of this year, I was able to see the great good this charity does to help thousands of the very poor. 

greenhouseRecently, they lost a large source of their funding.  Tanya Weaver’s (AFCA’s director) solution was to push harder to help make them more self-sufficient. She sat down with the leader of the CBHC and together, they dreamed big. After much research on how to make this work for their specific area, they decided to build specially designed fabric greenhouses to grow food which is traditionally difficult to grow in this part of the world – tomatoes and peppers - along with drilling a borehole to provide the water for the greenhouses and outer gardens.  East Africa is currently in one of the worst droughts in decades and a borehole and greenhouses will help grow food for those who most need it.  Besides tomatoes and peppers on the inside of the greenhouses, kale, peanuts, corn, squashes, onions, potatoes, yams, spinach, and other vegetables are grown on the outside using the drip irrigation system that is part of each greenhouse.

samuel harvestingWith AFCA’s guidance, funding and help, they are currently building the second of eleven planned greenhouses.  This food not only feeds some of the malnourished children in the program, but the excess is sold to fund the organization.  When they are all completed CBHC will have a large, continuing source of income to help the poor.  In addition, the greenhouses provide jobs for many of those in the programs. 

Yes, I’d say this is another AFCA success story. 

By Pat Dorsey

Wednesday is fast approaching. Wednesday is the day I will leave for a field visit to Zimbabwe to see how the children are doing, how livestock are growing and reproducing and to meet with field staff to gather reports, determine how things are going so far and find out what we can do to make things better.  As usual, it is amazing to reconnect with old friends (the field staff) and to see the children and their guardians.  I am so looking forward to sitting down to a cup of tea and some good stories of goats and piglets being born, children drinking milk for the first time in a long time and how the rains are helping crops grow.

medical suppliesThese trips are what make all the work worth it.  Knowing that our children are well cared for and that our programs are receiving what we promised them makes me happy.  But, seeing it all first hand is refreshing and it confirms that what we do is a good thing. 

Just last week I looked at our percentages since 2005, the first year we started giving out medicine, nutritional support, medical supplies, livestock and seeds, trainings, etc.  I was so happy to note that the average per year going directly to programs is 92%!  That is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the work here in USA is done by one full time person, one part time person and a slew of dedicated volunteers.  92% of all donations received go directly to the children…how neat is that? 

There is no question that this is happening because I have seen clinics expand and grow in my years since I started with the American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA), thanks to the trainings we’ve provided, to the medical supplies and equipment we send, to the support we provide every time it is requested, and to the dedication of all our partners in the four countries in which we work.

attending a birthI have hugged and played with children who were born infected with HIV but who are now 8 year olds, happily running around, healthy and hopeful, thanks to the free medicine and food they receive.  I have been welcomed and hugged by hundreds of midwives who received training in how to be safe while delivering babies from HIV+ mothers, thankful that someone thought of them and their safety.  I have tagged goat ears (more than I can count!) and handed them to orphan families so that the children have a way to become self-reliant.  I’ve attended and conducted trainings on how to raise animals, how to budget, how to manage, and how to become businessmen and women to old women and men, as well as adolescent guardians.

Drinking porridgeI have had the honor of attending the birth of a little one who was born HIV negative, thanks to the prenatal care given to his mother, all complements of AFCA.  I have smiled in gratitude to donors while watching children eating the porridge we provide and when they receive the school packs we give out so that they can go to school.  Because they are orphaned, they didn’t think they’d ever be able to attend school – who’d pay for their fees, uniforms and supplies? We did and it is with incredible joy that I’ve seen children skip off to school tightly holding their packs, wearing new uniforms and schools, knowing that they have a future.

school packsYes, these visits to our programs are renewing to my soul. They confirm again and again that hard work pays off for those who most need it – the kids.  When I can look at a sick mom in the eyes and tell her that we’ll make sure her kids go through school, that we’ll provide food and medicine for her and for her children, there is no greater responsibility or honor.  Responsibility because we WILL fulfill that promise.  And honor because we are helping the next generation of children become healthy, hopeful and productive citizens of their country.

Zimbabwe will be a blast!

 

I was recently able to accompany American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA)’s executive director, Tanya Weaver, on her annual inspection trip to visit one of the programs we support in Mombasa, Kenya.  This was my first opportunity to see AFCA in action in Africa. 

I left a few days later with a much great understanding of the tremendous need for help in Sub-Sahara Africa.  The number of sick and hungry children in Mombasa is really overwhelming at first.  But, the number of children being served and cared for by AFCA is enormous, too.  I left with a greater appreciation for the vast good AFCA does, and a renewed commitment to help them achieve it.  They do more with the limited resources they have then any other charity I have been involved in.  I was so impressed with the fact that they take the time to understand the specific needs of the people and/or organization they work with.  This is help that is up close, personal and very effective.

More to follow on Mombasa.

Pat Dorsey

It's three days before the second annual Run for Their Lives 5k to benefit the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and I receive an email with the question, "I know your race is rain or shine, but what about tropical storm?"  I reply with a cheerful, "The weather is going to be just fine!"  All the while I'm thinking, "Hmm, I hope so."  We've prepared for months for this event and I'm tracking the tropical storm as it makes its way up the east coast.  Not an ideal situation, but the race must go on.  However, God has mercy on us and the storm blows through the Lebanon, PA valley by late Friday, leaving Saturday morning pleasant and cool. 

A nice mix of participants show up for race day:  male and female, children and adults, runners from last year and some new faces, some speedsters and some walkers and all speeds in between.  After some brief announcements and the National Anthem, they’re off!  As the runners and walkers disappear from view, we scurry to convert the starting line into the finish chute.  Before we know it, the first pack of runners is rounding the bend.  Two young men are neck and neck, pushing each other to quicken their already fast pace.  The first two finishers cross the finish line one second apart from each other.  It doesn’t get much more exciting than that!

Although, we have one runner experience a different type of excitement.  We have two volunteers man the turnaround point of our race.  One woman is in charge of offering cups of water to the runners, the other is calling out the elapsed race time so runners can keep track of their pace.  One man reached this point and called out, “Pace?”  However, our water lady thought he yelled, “Face!” so she proceeded to douse his face with a refreshing cup of water.  We’re all thankful that the gentleman had a sense of humor about his unexpected bath.

Thank you to all participants and volunteers who helped to make this event a success.  Please know that 100% of your registration fees go to help the children in Africa who are affected and/or infected with AIDS.  Together, we saved lives today at the 5K.

Special thanks to Five Stone Bookstore, Ahnu, Ashar Management and Consulting, MedExpress, APR, Northwest Bank, Clouser Environmental, Major League Printing, Alps Mountaineering, Stanley, Mountain Khakis, True Reuseable Bags, Yurbuds, Stone Barn, Tri-Valley Contractors and all the volunteers who made this event possible.  Thanks to you, hundreds of children will receive the food, medicine, supplies, and education they need.

  

Every dollar donated toward Project One Million can purchase a month supply of antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, and are so powerful, they can save lives. Recent studies have discovered that inexpensive antibiotics can halve the deaths by AIDS and greatly improves quality of lives of HIV+ patients. AFCA provides antibiotics for HIV+ children for them to combat HIV and other infections that may endanger their lives or be obstacles in their daily life.

“This is a breakthrough in medical research which can help to save children’s lives all over the world.” – International Development Secretary Hilary Benn

Co-trimoxazole is the newly discovered breakthrough. Drug resistance to common antibiotics can be widespread in some HIV-stricken areas because they have been widely used to treat HIV with or without anti-retroviral (ART) drugs to which patients can also build resistance. What scientists have found out in recent years is that co-trimoxazole is effective regardless of patients’ level of resistance to this antibiotic.

Advantages of Co-trimoxazole

Co-trimoxazole is cheaper and more readily available than ART drugs. Most of the HIV+ children cannot afford medical expenses on their own, let alone ART drugs. As mentioned in my article on medication, there are two lines of ART drugs that are commonly used to treat HIV, both of which build resistance. This means if a patient has built resistance to the first one, he or she will need the second one because the first one is no longer effective. If the same patient has built resistance to the second one, he or she will not have any ART drug to use.  In order for these ART drugs to stay effective, they need to be taken daily, which can be difficult due to the cost of the drugs and poor infrastructure or extreme weather which can hinder delivery of drugs. Now there is co-trimoxazole which can prolong the patients’ lives up to 7 to 10 years if taken daily and it can keep full-blown AIDS at bay by protecting the child from what are known as opportunistic infections.

Because co-timoxazole is an antibiotic, it will not treat HIV, but it can treat a number of infections, including a variety of upper and lower respiratory tract infections, renal and urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal tract infections, skin and wound infections, septicaemias, and other infections caused by sensitive organisms. Infections such as these, which may not seem dangerous to us, can be just as fatal to HIV+ children’s weakened immune system. These infections are very well preventable, let alone treatable, so daily co-trimoxazole treatment can save many lives!

HIV+ children could use any help they can receive. These children are likely to have witnessed the painful deaths of their parents and other family members, are left with emotional scars and an overwhelming amount of chores, which can easily be too much for young children to handle. They fight with fear of dying the same way their parent(s) did. With so much to do every day and so little help they receive, they feel alone. Dr. Lucie Cluver and her colleagues at Oxford University have compiled a report on psychological impact of HIV on AIDS orphans (you can view the report here). Dr. Cluver says in an interview with Voice of America that stigma attached to AIDS causes gossip, bullying and fear, that they are exposed to unhygienic environment while talking care of sick family members, making themselves susceptible to infections, feeling under pressure and stress to do other chores and very responsible for the sick family members they take care of. They are at high risk of becoming both physically and mentally ill.

How We Can Help

Donations help provide them with daily necessities, which will ease the stress they deal with each day. By making a donation, you can also show them that they are not fighting alone. If you are not able to making a donation, and you would like to do something, please spread the word by talking or blogging about Project One Million, or your concerns about AIDS orphans and HIV+ children, sharing the Project One Million video or AFCA blog on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr or whatever you enjoy using. Every thought turned into action, however small it may seem, can make a world of difference in lives of people in need.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel

 Mariko Siegert

 

Last week I spoke to several Girl Scout troops about AFCA’s work with children affected by AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. The presentation, accompanied by pictures of several children in our programs, was part of the organization’s annual World Thinking Day activities, themed this year, “Together We can Save Children’s Lives.”

I couldn’t agree more.

What struck me most about my time with the Girl Scouts, ages 5 through 17, was how intently they listened to the stories of children who live half-way around the globe from them, surviving in the desperate circumstances they have been born into.

The Girl Scouts I spoke to genuinely connected to AFCA’s mission. I told them a story about the impact of something that most of us take for granted: a comfortable bed. I showed them pictures of hospital beds in one African hospital, mere slabs of wood propped up on four cinder blocks that sat on a dirt floor.

Then I showed them AFCA’s warehouse full of hospital beds donated through the medical surplus recovery project along with new mattresses, sheets and blankets. The girls saw snap shots of those beds being loaded by volunteers onto the forty-foot cargo container at our warehouse that would then be carried across the ocean.

They saw pictures of joyful townspeople unloading those beds and other crucial supplies that would save lives for the next year or more at their hospital.

In the final image, they saw a tiny boy who was sick in the hospital, surrounded by nurses and a doctor. “Where are his parents?” one kindergarten girl asked. I wish I could have told her that they stood just outside the frame of the picture or waited outside the hospital room.

Although it doesn’t take the place of comforting parents, the boy was lying, not on a slab of cold hard wood, but in one of those beds—complete with a new mattress, clean sheets and a warm blanket—that had been sent across the ocean in a cargo container. Something as simple as a comfortable bed can send hope and improve the life of a child who is sick, orphaned or both.

During the closing question and answer time of each World Thinking Day presentation, it was so moving to hear a little girl sitting off to the side ask, “Do you take donations?” and “What can I do to help?” These girls, along with many other groups of children and youth I meet, are growing up seeking ways to serve neighbors in need. As the future leaders of a world that has grown much larger than it was for previous generations, our children are willing to help neighbors who may live across the street or across the globe.

Yes, most definitely, together we can save children’s lives.

Kathy Stewart
Director of Development

Will you please join us in making a difference in the life of a child?

Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for ideas to get you or your group started on a well-suited project to benefit AFCA.

Learn more about how you can help send health and hope right now to Kilembe Mines, Uganda at this link: https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/medical-supplies-for-uganda

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AFCA fully supports that the power of youth cannot be underestimated in a changing world. With this is mind we want to train youth in husbandry and gardening, and to purchase, transport, and deliver livestock and seeds to AIDS orphans. Once the orphans receive livestock (goats, chickens, guinea fowl, sheep, or pigs), they also receive non-genetically modified seeds to start personal gardens. While youth drink milk and eat eggs from their animals, their gardens grow, giving the kids green vegetables, corn, and peanuts while their animals reproduce and herds/flocks grow. After a predetermined amount of time, when the flocks are large, the youth are allowed to sell, barter, slaughter, and eat their animals. With budgeting and marketing training, the youth are business owners who are able to care for themselves, paying for their own medicine, food, rent, and needs. Once the agreed-upon time has passed, the original beneficiaries must give some of their livestock to another orphan family, passing their good fortune forward to others. 

How amazing does this sound?? And what’s even better, the Good for Youth Challenge can provide the funding so that we can expand this program which we’ve already piloted with 300+ orphaned families.

All you need to do is vote for us at: http://giveforyouth.maker.good.is/projects/AFCAids

Share this link on facebook, twitter and in other way with all your friends, family and colleagues.

Join us… make a difference… save lives… all it takes is a vote!

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Hasn’t that phrase been completed by a hundred-and-one commercial companies?  Some try to convince you that you should buy a ring for your girlfriend at “so-and-so-store” or take him out to eat at “name-exclusive-restaurant-here”.

Sometimes it seems as if that is all that Valentine’s Day means, getting caught up in some large over-rated commercial gimmick.  I tend to agree.  I don’t typically buy anything for Valentine’s Day.  I prefer to spend the money on something better.  And let’s face it; you know you often spend more than you should just because it’s the fourteenth.

I have an idea.  I’ve tried it with my friends and it spread like wildfire.  Allow me to finish the sentence above for you.  Nothing says, “I Love You” like… using the money to send life and hope through a charity like AFCA.  Nothing says, “I Love You” like buying five chickens ($30) for sustainable food.  Nothing says, “I Love You” like one year of lifesaving medicine.

I must say that if my boyfriend presented me with a donation confirmation this Valentine’s Day, I would be so moved to have such a caring and giving man.  Admit it, every women loves a man who is adorable and thoughtful! :)

To make things easier, AFCA offers a Valentine’s catalog.  Have a look at this link http://afcaids.org/get-involved/catalog and give a meaningful gift from the heart today!

Roberta Rizzo

 

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