Keon Hite, an American who joined One World Center at our Massachusettes campus, has used his service period to fight the AIDS epidemic in Africa. He writes from the city of Ndola, the third largest in Zambia with a population of 500,000, to report on his work in the field.
In Ndola, Keon states, a staggering 23% of the people are living with AIDS.As an OWC development instructor he has paired up with Hope Humana which has many projects in Africa to combat the disease, provide support and work to increase prevention awareness.
Hope Humana has reached over 750,000 people in with 20 projects running in 8 African countries. The strategy of HH is to train volunteers to mobilize community members in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support. Testing services, follow up care and referrals to treatment centers are offered. In addition, support centers are placed in many communities to offer help in home-based care, nutrition and support for orphans.
Keon worked as a development instructor at the National Headquarter Hope Project. The event was a 9-day HIV testing effort with an initiative to increase the number of young people that know their HIV statuses. A second initiative, a condom and safe-sex social marketing effort took place in tandem with the testing.
Keon worked with a project leader at Hope Humana to chose to run a "Getting Tested Campaign"; this required learning about Ndola and the HIV demographic.Through visiting the director over the Ministry of Health, American Red Cross,Youth Centers and the community, he was able to begin the planning of the much-needed campaign.
Through this campaign hundreds of youth were tested for HIV-AIDS, 1,000 safe-sex kits were distributed and over 5,000 condoms were distributed for free in three areas of Zambia.Those who were tested positive were connected with harm-reduction resources and counselors at Hope Center and others were given the tools to stop the spread of HIV-AIDS.
Keon says this experience changed him forever. Not only did he help others he says he felt connected, encouraged and appreciated.