December 2017 Donation Matching


December 2017

Dear friends and WE-ACTx supporters,

Last month, the New York Times ran a story on the “used clothes” conflict between the United States and East African countries including Rwanda. The title of the article was For Dignity and Development, East Africa Curbs Used Clothes Imports. The U.S. seeks to continue exporting second hand clothes (global wholesale used clothing trade is valued at ~$3.7 billion). But the Rwandan government cites the need to develop local manufacturing, which can’t compete with rock bottom prices from used clothing imports.   The problem was exacerbated 20 years ago when debt crises, falling cotton prices and cheap Chinese imports, wiped out textile industries across Africa. The International Monetary Fund pushed African countries to open up trade, but the West protected its textile industries by restricting imports of yarns and fabrics from developing countries. Removing barriers to imports made clothing manufacturing in countries in Africa uncompetitive and almost disappear.  The Rwandans also make the point that wearing discarded hand me down clothing from the west disrespects the dignity of its population.  There are many more nuanced points to this discussion (not least of which is why do we buy and discard so much clothing in this country?). I bring this up in this end of year fundraising letter for WE-ACTx because it is a perfect starting point for reflecting on how we make donations and how we channel our charitable impulses in ways that are respectful and optimally constructive.

Thanks to your generosity last summer, in response to our appeal, WE-ACTx and WE-ACTx For Hope (WFH), our sister Rwandan organization, were able to maintain the children’s support groups and Ineza income generation activities this year, both essential programs providing psychosocial and economic support for patients with HIV in the clinic.  Providing this kind of comprehensive care to young and adult patients is a hallmark of WE-ACTx’s work in Rwanda. Currently there are 2230 patients seen in the clinic in Kigali including 58 children £12 years, 400 youth between 13 and 24 years and ~1550 over 25 years. Per the Rwandan Ministry of Health protocol, almost all (2023/2230) are currently on antiretroviral therapy, with 80% having complete viral suppression.   This remarkably high rate of viral suppression and healthy outcomes reflects the well-functioning caring staff, available medication, patients trusting their providers, and a comprehensive array of services which address nutritional, psychosocial, and medical needs, income supplements, educational opportunities and community stigma that comprise the WE-ACTx for Hope program.

Over the last 5 years, we’ve written to you about a special group of young people who are part of the staff of WE-ACTx for Hope staff– the 18 youth leaders who conducted the intervention to improve adherence to HIV medications in youngsters with HIV.  As the study draws to a close it’s telling to look at how much these youth taught us and how much they accomplished.  In addition to dealing well with their own HIV infection, becoming skilled at delivering the cognitive behavioral therapy intervention and being role models for the younger patients, they succeeded in other aspects of their lives as well. Five of the 18 completed university studies, 2 are still studying at the university and 2 completed high school during the past 5 years. Six have jobs outside of their work related to WE-ACTx.  Four of the students were married recently and 2 have children.  Many of the youth leaders acknowledge that the confidence with which they approach these endeavors stems from lessons on coping strategies and healthy choices they learned about during the research program.  We are so proud of their hard work and tremendous growth and hope their success continues.

Programmatically, WE-ACTx for Hope has continued to diversify and seek new funding to support the clinical program and its related activities, with backing from the Rwandan public health system.  Other funders include the Rwandan CDC, Keep a Child Alive, AIDS Healthcare Foundation. And this month Chantal and Bosco (the leadership team) are working on a submission to the Global Fund to provide additional support for women and girls with and at risk for HIV.

WE-ACTx has always had a tradition of taking its direction from local Rwandan women’s groups. WE-ACTx for Hope continues this tradition as it carries out the work in Rwanda.  Our support for WE-ACTx for Hope on their terms is so important because it represents our trust and solidarity for goals that we all share – addressing needs as they arise and building a more just and equitable world.

We are excited to tell you that one of our generous donors, the Robert F. Meagher Charitable Foundation and members of the Board of WE-ACTx have joined together to create this year’s matching fund for donations up to $40,000. So please make your respectful donations to an organization that appreciates your support and directs the funds where they are needed.  Thank you so much.


Toward a healthy and peaceful world,


Mardge Cohen

Medical Director, WE-ACTx


Please make your tax-deductible donation here:

Or make checks payable to:


584 Castro Street #416

San Francisco, CA 94114

Thank you so much for your continued support

Women's Equity in Access to Care & Treatment