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Partnerships Improve Lives of Families Living with HIV

Daoudd
We Build a Better Society

Recently, the American Red Cross hosted a pre-conference to the 2012 International Aids Conference. Members of thirty Red Cross societies from around the world participated in this two-day event that featured sharing best practices and the impact these efforts are having in their communities. Additionally, a satellite session on Youth Leadership in the HIV Response occurred, with peer counselors from Africa, the Caribbean and North America offering lessons learned in educating young people. Below is a story of the impact that these programs and partnerships have on people living with HIV and their families.

Daoud’s Story

Daoud is shy. The 18-year old speaks quietly, his eyes darting about, resting only to consider a thought. He is the youngest of five siblings, who live together in a tiny compound near the primary school in Kanembwa, Tanzania. Daoud’s sister is HIV positive and rarely has the strength to leave the house. His brothers earn a living as brick makers and carpenters, but their income is modest with little to spare. Their father died years ago, and their mother left shortly thereafter.

Funded by the American Red Cross, the Tanzania Red Cross Society’s Integrated HIV program, Tujenge Jamii Bora, meaning “We Build a Better Society,” has partnered with livestock experts from Heifer International to teach vulnerable children, like Daoud, and chronically ill individuals to raise chickens for consumption and sale. Daoud is one of many beneficiaries who have been given the tools to support themselves and their chronically ill family members, improving both of their lives.

Although primary school is free in Tanzania, Daoud relied on assistance from the government to pay for materials, and when the district stopped supporting him after grade five, he said, “I began to depend on myself.” To pay his way through grade six he began selling groundnuts. At the end of grade seven he passed the secondary school entrance exams, and began working with his brothers selling bricks to earn enough to pay his school fees. Through his sister, a recipient of Home Based Care services (HBC) through the Tanzania Red Cross Society’s Integrated HIV Program, Daoud joined the support group Urafiki, meaning Friendship, and received training in chicken rearing through the program’s partnership with Heifer International.

For two months Daoud worked every afternoon after school to construct an enclosure for his chickens. Using some of the bricks he and his brothers made, he meticulously built a three-room enclosure, its roof made of tightly woven dried grasses, its fenced-in courtyard divided by rows of slender bamboo. He placed a few rails inside, where his chickens jostle for perches.

He began with two chickens in 2011. Today, he has 14. He sells an average of 40 eggs per week, earning enough to pay to feed his growing flock and to obtain school supplies. He is waiting until he has 50 chickens to begin selling them. Five chickens equal roughly $50, which would cover a year of school expenses.

Now in Form 3, the equivalent of the grade ten, Daoud says he plans to raise chickens for four years. He enjoys his science courses, especially physics and chemistry, and hopes to pursue them in advanced level studies, even university. He has become the neighborhood chicken expert, offering advice and lessons to his neighbors.

Though shy, Daoud is ambitious, and is one of the youngest and most successful beneficiaries of the IHIV Program’s partnership with Heifer International. Given a seven-day training, a few feet of chicken wire, and starter chickens, Daoud has put unflagging effort into his new endeavor. He says he now feels more secure and optimistic about the future, and believes he will be able to care for himself and his siblings through his efforts.

Funded by the American Red Cross, the Tanzania Red Cross Society’s Integrated HIV program, Tujenge Jamii Bora, meaning “We Build a Better Society,” has partnered with livestock experts from Heifer International to teach vulnerable children, like Daoud, and chronically ill individuals to raise chickens for consumption and sale. Daoud is one of many beneficiaries who have been given the tools to support themselves and their chronically ill family members, improving both of their lives.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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