Since 2015, our charity partners at Studio Samuel have included this life-saving course as part of their Training for Tomorrow program. The class was originally created in response to learning about a 10-year-old student who had become her HIV+ mother’s only caregiver.
While the world continues to battle the global pandemic, the spread of HIV/AIDS across Ethiopia remains a significant threat to public health. The result of a high rate of infections is compounded by poverty, disproportionate effects against women, and a broad stigma against the disease. Though proper education, testing and diagnosis are essential to HIV prevention and treatment, the social taboo of discussing it keeps many from getting the treatment they need. Furthermore, many girls forced into caregiver roles are denied their education, which is often necessary to lift them out of the cycle of poverty. Facing these challenges, Studio Samuel is committed to ensuring that girls enrolled in its programs are well-equipped and empowered to take charge of their own health and safety.
The HIV/AIDS Prevention Course has shown great success in the past, with 100% of its graduates testing negative for the disease and the girls’ communities benefiting from an additional breakdown of social stigmas surrounding the topic. However, in 2019, the program had to temporarily shut down due to lack of resources.
Thankfully, our supporters at The White Feather Foundation responded generously to a campaign launched in partnership with Studio Samuel to restart the program later that year. We announced that the course was fully funded in early 2020, then COVID-19 arrived, and the students were unable to attend school due to lockdown restrictions.
Now, the girls are back, excited to be part of the next group that learns how to protect their health and the health of their families.
We invite you to follow the students’ progress in the months to come on the Studio Samuel blog and watch this space for more updates as they become available.
Kieran Taylor of Studio Samuel contributed to this post.