Spring to Successful Schooling



May 23rd, 2015

Dear friends,

As spring awakens all around us, I’m writing to you to support our work in Rwanda. As you know, WE-ACTx usually sends only one annual mailing to supporters. But in the past few months, some of you responded to my February letter from Kigali and asked how you might help the many young patients who want to go to school and get job training to better their future. Many of you already sent donations specifically for school fees and to support students who had been denied schooling because of disabilities. We were very moved by this outpouring and are sending this mid-year appeal specifically to solicit support for this new initiative.

Because our two WE-ACTx for Hope clinics provide high quality care for over 2500 persons with HIV in Kigali, there are now 600 patients under 24 who are getting stronger and healthy, and are hopeful that they may have long and productive lives. But antiretroviral pills and nurses are not enough to make this happen. Likewise, just giving school fees will not automatically result in educational achievement. The broad array of problems (stigma, poverty, unstable housing, abuse) facing families with HIV puts these youngsters at risk for failure to complete secondary school and find jobs. Only by addressing these needs will we be able to help these families provide the foundation needed for successful learning.

In March 2015, WE-ACTx for Hope began a yearlong intensive effort “Spring to Successful Schooling” to assess and address these needs and help facilitate a pathway to a better future for our youngest patients. During this year we plan to:

  1. Conduct in-depth individual and family assessments by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, counselors, and psychologists to identify and address the most pressing challenges facing these families (unstable housing, drug and alcohol problems, incarceration, severe poverty, abuse and neglect)
  2. Identify parents who may not be taking their antiretroviral medications regularly to promote better adherence strategies for the whole family
  3. Sensitize and provide family planning to young women aged 18 (youngest age this is legally permitted) -24, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and enable reproductive choice
  4. Utilize peer counselors to sensitize older girls and boys to treat each other respectfully and understand gender based violence
  5. Identify and address school problems including stigma, discrimination and need for tutoring
  6. Seek community support for stable housing
  7. Increase access to school and job training for those with disabilities and limited opportunities
  8. Work with older youth to find vocational and university opportunities and funding

Please help our “Spring to Successful Schooling” campaign. Your support will help our staff launch this important project this year as well as help the youngest WE-ACTx patients have a better future.

I look forward to giving you more details when I write you again from Kigali during my upcoming visit in June.

Thanks for all your support,

Mardge Cohen
Medical Director, WE-ACTx

You can support our Spring to Successful Schooling campaign by donating
using the above “Donate” button or by mailing checks to
584 Castro St. #416
San Francisco, CA 94114

Women's Equity in Access to Care & Treatment