gHAI is a community enhancement and support initiative of gem Publications, established for the purpose of improving the quality of living of the less privileged in the society, especially women and children, providing them with physical, financial, mental and spiritual succour; such that they gain renewed hope for living, are empowered to be independent, and ultimately, positive contributors to the society.
The initiative started out as an intervention for people living with HIV/AIDS, to provide them a total support system that caters for their proper health management (in terms of distribution of drugs, payment of hospital bills, etc.), housing, nutrition, clothing, education, finance, etc; consequently, improving the prevailing deplorable condition of living of the victims of HIV/AIDS in our society.
Sadly though, this deplorable state of living is widespread in our society, it is not just the sole experience of people living with HIV/AIDS, in fact a larger proportion of the populace live under very degrading conditions; thus, gHAI’s decision to spread its influence beyond those living with HIV/AIDS to other members of the society who are in dire need of help, whose wellbeing is dependent on the goodwill of others.
gHAI’s strategy is simply to “get involved”. And the ways we get involved include:
AWARENESS CAMPAIGN: It is terribly saddening that despite the ever increasing rate of mortality due to HIV/AIDS, there are still people who are ignorant, or some who chose to be ignorant of the deadliness of the virus and how to protect themselves against it; thus, are at great risk of becoming one of the millions that daily contact the virus.
gHAI is committed to the cause of educating as many as we can, consequently curbing as drastically as possible the onslaught of HIV/AIDS. And this we do through our Awareness Campaigns, which we carry out in three-fold: our publications, programmes and the school campaigns.
gemWOMAN/gemMAN– The magazine has special features ranging from real life stories of people living with HIV/AIDS to heartrending statistics or articles to sensitise people on the prevailing ills of HIV/AIDS, persuading them to take caution and rise to the aid of the victims.
Social Events– Presentations are made at our events to sensitise attendees on the ills of HIV/AIDS, and also solicit for their support for the known victims under our care.
Preserving the Next Generation Campaigns– This is targeted at adequately educating and mentoring the younger generation. This takes the form of awareness campaigns and seminars about HIV/AIDS in schools- both private and public. Over 20,000 students have been reached, enlightening them on means of contacting the virus, symptoms, treatments, etc. The aim is to empower the younger generation to make better choices; thus the theme of the programme, ‘PRESERVING THE NEXT GENERATION’. Preserving the Next Generation Campaign is usually a combination of life skills training and HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.
CONTINUOUS VISITATION OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LASUTH: Since 2008, the gHAI team visits the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) twice in a month, during the clinic days of people living with HIV/AIDS; 2nd Fridays for adults and 3rd Fridays for children. During these visits, foodstuffs, clothing, drugs, etc., are distributed and most of them depend on these supplies for sustenance.
We also organise Christmas parties for the children and adult, we try to make the season as joyful for them as possible, they get treated to delicious meals, clothes, shoes, party packs, food items, and lots more are distributed. It is usually a day they look forward to, and the party has consistently been held since 2008 and over 1,000 children have benefitted from these yearly parties.
COUNSELING/REHABILITATION: Most of the victims go through really traumatising experiences, so many of the women have been thrown out by their husbands, others have issues with families and in-laws, most of the children are orphans, and a host of other traumatising issues they have to go through that have telling effect on their mental and physical health. Thus, we counsel victims on various spheres; in order to provide the needed emotional succour and help. We also take up responsibility for ensuring the wellbeing of some individuals with extreme cases. There is a young boy presently under our care, whose parents abandoned and was left to live on the streets. He lived in abandoned vehicles on the streets, and would sometimes not eat for days. We took him under our care, while we made efforts to locate his parents, providing him with accommodation, clothing, food and study materials. Though, he’s now living with his mother, we still provide him with basic necessities and ensure his wellbeing.
MEDICAL SUPPORT: Due to their status, most of the victims are out of jobs and are financially handicapped, so they often cannot pay their medical bills or afford drugs. Thus, we offer support through the provision of drugs, payment of medical bills, etc.
HOUSING: We have had cases of women being thrown out of their marital homes and thus rendered homeless. There are also cases of those who cannot afford their rents and are thrown out by landlords. We rise to their aid by paying their rents, thus keeping them housed and not out on the streets.
EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT- SCHOLARSHIPS, ETC.: We often have to pay the tuitions of orphan and vulnerable children under our care. We also give scholarships to less privileged students. Also, we launched the Back-to-School Project, in order to further provide the much needed support for less privileged students. The project will be explained in details under Preserving the Next Generation projects.
CAPACITY BUILDING: We organise vocational trainings for people living with HIV/AIDS and the less privileged, as a means of ensuring their financial independence.
SETTING UP OF SMALL SCALE BUSINESS VENTURES: Also, in order to empower less privileged women to be financially independent, we provide them with start-up capital for small scale businesses. We also provide platforms via our Feed-A-Child-A-Day project to financially empower women under our programme.
THE CARE-CENTRE: This is the ultimate goal of gHAI, to build a care-center for people living with HIV/AIDS and the less privileged, where they will be taught entrepreneurial and vocational skills.
PRESERVING THE NEXT GENERATION PROJECTS
We have visited over twenty secondary schools within and outside Lagos, empowering and educating the students to make better life choices.
Our interaction with the children during these campaigns revealed certain vital needs that led to the birth of the following pet projects for OVC and less privileged children:
The Feed A Child A Day Project has been launched in five schools with over 2,000 breakfasts served. Our goal is to serve over 10,000 breakfasts before the end of the school year. Breakfast is served thrice a week at the selected schools. More schools will be added as we intend to reach as many children as possible.
We intend providing them with school packs that would consist of the following- 1 school bag, 1 dozen notebooks, 4 socks, 2 pencils, 2 pens, 2 sharpeners, 2 erasers, and 1 water bottle.
Hence, we intend providing them with a basic necessity bag that would include the following- 4 sets of clothes, 4 underwears, a pair of slippers and a pair of sandals, for both girls and boys.
Rural negligence is a major ill in our society, the condition of living in the rural communities are so unacceptable; rural dwellers lack potable water (they drink, bathe, wash and cook from the same stream), have unmotorable roads, ineffective health care system, dilapidated school buildings, and the people live way below poverty level. Thus, disease and mortality rate are on an increasing high in the rural communities, mal-nourishment, illiteracy, poverty, etc. are the prevailing norms.
gHAI seeks to improve the living standard of those in the rural communities and thus engages in community outreaches.
We have reached out to several communities including Gaun. Gaun is a community in Ogun State. It is a sparsely populated community with a total population of about 300. The main occupation in Gaun is fishing, which is basically done by the men, the women don’t work, so the whole family depends on the meagre income of the husbands. The entire populace lives in dilapidated mud houses. The only source of water is the stream, it is the stream water they use in bathing, cooking, washing and yet drink. There is only one school in the community, and the school is in such appalling condition, half of the school’s building is unroofed and the entire structure is a sorry sight. The children are not interested in going to school and there are no committed teachers either. The only health care available to the community dweller is the primary health care centre, which has no qualified personnel or needed facilities to provide quality health care.
Thus, gHAI’s intervention, which included the following:
We also intend providing basic amenities- drilling of boreholes to provide potable water, amongst others.
CLUBBING ACTIVITIES WITH INSTITUTE OF HUMAN VIROLOGY (IHVN)
In partnership with IHVN, we organised clubbing activities in several communities for adults and children- Ojodu, Agidingbi, Ipaja, Ayobo, etc. During this clubbing activities, food items, clothing and educational materials are distributed. Awareness talks on HIV/AIDS are also given. These clubbing activities usually attract a huge turnout; and a fast deplete of resources taken. This further bears witness to the staggering needs of our society and the need for effective intervention.