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Poverty Alleviation Projects

October 31, 2008

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your October 2008 report for The $10 Club.

Concern America is an international development and refugee aid organization that provides long-term, community-based development and support to economically impoverished communities throughout the world. According to John Straw, a project coordinator with the group, “Mozambique has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, and life expectancy projections for the year 2010 have dropped from 50.3 to 36 years.”

Since October 2000, Concern America has worked in Niassa, Mozambique’s largest and most rural Province, to address the rising incidence of HIV and AIDS. They have trained over a thousand HIV and AIDS education activists, created the Associação Conhecimento é Poder (Knowledge is Power Association, a locally-staffed and locally-run HIV and AIDS prevention training organization), organized grassroots responses to HIV and AIDS through an ever-expanding number of Equipas da Vida (Life teams), and brought together communities, organizations, and government institutions to increase access to and improve the care of people living with HIV and AIDS.

When asked what outside support would most help the work that they do, Equipas members say without hesitation: bicycles. It is not uncommon for Equipas members to travel many hours by foot to do a home visit or to attend a training course. They are all volunteers, and John tells me their dedication is inspiring.

This month, 360 of joined together to donate $3,600 to Concern America to support its project to address the rising incidence of HIV and AIDS in Mozambique’s largest Province through community-based interventions. We will provide bicycles to enable outreach work in the most remote regions of Niassa. Each bicycle is purchased locally, and therefore will have affordable parts easily available for upkeep and repair. This month’s grant is coupled with an additional $500 from the High Five Club (a group that has launched in England, copying our successful model, but using £5 per month, www.highfiveclub.co.uk). So the total value of our grant this month is $4,100, enough to provide 41 bikes. Thank you.

The targeted Province in Mozambique is home to about 800,000 people. Educational and literacy levels are very low. Some 55% of the men and 85% of the women of Niassa can neither read nor write. Although the official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, 40% of the men and 77% of the women in Niassa do not speak it.

According to 2005 statistics, the estimated percentage of adults (ages 15-49) living with HIV/AIDS was 16.1%; of these adults, it is estimated that 60% are women. However, it is important to note that anecdotal evidence suggests that the actual prevalence rates are higher. Consultants for the Ministry of Health have reported, based on death rates among teachers, for example, that the HIV prevalence rate for this group may be in excess of 20%. Recently, HIV tests were administered to a group of community health workers employed by the Ministry of Health in the southern part of Niassa and these results showed that 40% of those tested were infected.

With our support, Equipas da Vida members can better carry out their work, which includes visiting fellow villagers who live in remote areas and traveling between communities to attend meetings and training sessions.

The bicycles will facilitate these health educators as they:
  • focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, including door-to-door educational outreach;
  • form and train youth peer education groups;
  • expand the availability of HIV testing;
  • assist people living with AIDS in their villages, where more than 6000 children orphaned by AIDS receive food, support to attend school, and recreational activities; and
  • train patient advocates to accompany HIV positive individuals when they visit hospitals and clinics for care, and then help them to adhere to their strict anti-retroviral treatment regimens.
They will also provide enriched porridge to individuals for the first six months they are taking ARVs. I recently read an article entitled, “Living with HIV and an empty stomach,” which detailed how many people in Mozambique are caught in a vicious trap where, as a result of HIV, their health is too poor for them to work. Without work they cannot buy food. And without food they suffer from constant nausea when on their medicines. So they don’t take their medicines…

I can’t fathom being crushed by poverty, illness, or hunger, let alone all three simultaneously. Especially if one also has to care for others in their family. Something has to be done. Hopefully the 41 newly-enabled life team members in Mozambique will bring hope and healing to thousands of people in need. On bikes. Thanks to you.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,
Adam


The $10 Club is a nonprofit corporation registered in the District of Columbia.
Contributions are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


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