FRIENDS WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION working for health, hope, and peace
Who we are… We are an organization founded by and for Burundian women to address the unique needs of women in the conflict and post-conflict environment.
Our mission:•Provide comprehensive, community-based health care to women and theirfamilies.•Promote women’s empowerment andleadership.•Strengthen peace and social solidarity.
We believe:We believe health is a human right. We alsobelieve that when this right is truly respected,there is hope for long-term sustainable peacein Burundi.We focus on the whole well-being of ourpatients and our community, treating both theirbodily needs and facilitating a process ofhealing from violence and trauma.
A little bit about Burundi:•Burundi is ranked the 4th poorest country in the world.•The percentage of people living below the poverty line increasedfrom 33% to 68%, from 1990 in 2004.•The national rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Burundi is above epidemiclevels. In Kamenge, where the FWA Center is located, the rate ofinfection is estimated to be as high as 16%.•Burundi is one of the most overpopulated countries in Africa. Themajority of Burundians live a daily struggle to survive, living often onbarren land.
More about Kamenge:During the war, Kamenge was on the frontlines of fierce violence. Thelegacy of the war in this community includes issues surrounding:•widows and female-headed households•orphans and vulnerable children•displaced persons and refugees•high rates of HIV infection•high rates of poverty: including issues of food insecurity, lack ofaccess to clean drinking water, lack of adequate health care•psychosocial trauma and sexual violence
Our services:•Free or low cost medical exams to women andtheir families•Primary and preventative care•Laboratory testing•HIV testing and counseling,•Psychological counseling•Home visits and micro-finance services•Community trauma and reconciliation workshops
What does an averagepatient look like?Our most common patient is not only living with HIV,but in poor, urban settings -- struggling to coverbasic living expenses.HIV positive individuals live in a state of vulnerabilityat the margins of society where they are exiled andstigmatized.Frequently, they do not have the opportunitiesnecessary to learn new skills and to provide forthemselves and their families.
Laboratory Services:Our lab technician provides free HIV tests, as well aslow cost:•Pregnancy tests•Rapid malaria tests•Gastro intestinal tests•Urinary tests•Hemoglobin testsOur onsite psychologist provides pre- and post-HIVtest counseling.
Our pharmacy:We provide free medications to HIV+ patientssuffering from opportunistic infections, like TB andpneumonia.We also provide affordable, low-cost medications toanyone with a prescription.We are currently in the process of receiving Anti-Retroviral (ARV)Treatment accreditation from theMinistry of Health allowing us to provide free ARVtreatment to HIV + patients.
Trauma healing workshops:Our Women’s Peace and Recovery Project works toprovide concrete trauma healing and communityreconciliation techniques to 600 participants.These techniques help women manage debilitatingmental pain, improve family relationships andincrease women’s ability to work, in order to supporttheir families.Lack of access to healthcare, poor physical healthand HIV are the primary causes of re-traumatizationafter violent conflict.
Meet Cecile Ngendakuriyo Trauma Healing Workshop Participant “When I came to the workshop, I was feeling so bad, my heart was about to explode. I first had problems with my children, which caused me so much pain. In addition, three weeks ago my husband died. Since that day, I was always sad; I never laughed anymore or expressed any joy… I was sad all the time because I lost the one who used to help me in everything. But when I started coming to the workshop, what we learned helped me so much. I feel better now. I even started to laugh again. I feel released. Thank you very much for coming, I hope and ask you to come more often.”
Why micro-finance?Poverty is one of the primary challenges to individualsreintegrating into communities after conflict. Aperson living in poverty has little or no access tohousing, nutrition, clothing, healthcare or education.We launched our micro-finance program in anattempt to address these issues, and to improve theholistic health of the woman.Currently our micro-finance program supports 18 ofour HIV+ beneficiaries. Our goals is to extend this to all300+ of our patients living with HIV.
In our pilot project,participants reported doubling theirmonthly earnings, improving self- esteem,and experiencingless discrimination as they established themselves as business people.
Meet Marie-RoseNtahomvukiye Marie-Rose is a 60-year-old woman with 5 children. After her husband died in 2004, she tested positive for HIV. When she discovered her status, she became depressed -- often staying in her room. “It was very, very difficult for me to think of work because I believed that what was left for me was only death… I had no more appetite, but also, in order to eat, I had to wait for my children to bring me something because I did not produce anything.”
“The microfinance project came to me like a miraclefrom God, because I have a neighbor who helped meto work. We gathered our money and together westarted a project selling coal….Per month, we can gain a profit of approximately80,000 FBU ($63 USD)... Because of this I can say thatthanks to the microfinance project my life hascompletely changed: today I have an occupation, Ispend my day at the work site, I have friends at workwho accompany me and encourage me day by day,and I no longer feel depressed.” - Marie-Rose Ntahomvukiye
We hope you’ll join us by making adonation to support our mission and toreach even more women like Cecileand Marie-Rose.Visit www.fwaburundi.com/supportusOr, send a check to:African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI)With “Friends Women’s Association” onthe memo line.1001 Park Avenue St.Louis, MO 63104, USANeed help? Or just want to chat aboutFWA’s work? Contact Leah Hazard firstname.lastname@example.org
And keep in touch! facebook.com/FWAburundi @FWAburundi