The Salvatorians have identified in the Apostles of Jesus and their Kenya-based humanitarian organization – Apostles of Jesus AIDS Ministries (AJAM) a valid partner.
The Apostles of Jesus are a young diocesan congregation founded in 1968 in Uganda, which convinced SOFIA of its seriousness and demonstrated it had wellprepared members. AJAM was established in 2000 with the scope of responding to the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kajiado County, a poor rural and semi-urban area not far from Nairobi. Over the years, following its mission to prevent, control, mitigate and stop the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS at the community level, AJAM has developed a grassroots-based all-encompassing program, which addresses this widespread disease as well as an array of related issues.
The idea behind it is that HIV/AIDS is part of a vicious circle of poverty, poor education in the causes of the ailment, and the lack of access to health services in a rural area populated, inter alia, by disadvantaged ethnic minorities. The mission of AJAM is to enable and strengthen individuals and local communities to better tackle the enormous challenge HIV/AIDS is to their life and, in the long run, to prevent and overcome the disease and its effects. In terms of activities, AJAM is consequently providing a wide range of services which include:
• HIV/AIDS prevention through voluntary testing, elimination of mother to child transmission of the virus, health education and awareness;
• maternal and infant health care, delivery of antiretroviral therapy, support of particularly vulnerable children and their parents or caregivers, home-based care to individuals directly and indirectly affected by the disease;
• educational and psychological support for AIDS orphans, life skill training for youth, education on women’s and human rights and on responsible sexual behavior, including gospel values, as well as vocational training initiatives for youth, support of women’s saving groups and entrepreneurship.
So far, AJAM has reached more than 150,000 children, youth and women in its fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Society has been cooperating through SOFIA with AJAM since 2010. The role of SOFIA has been that of helping to raise funds and grants for this ambitious program. Thanks to Daniela Coppola, responsible in SOFIA for this partner, AJAM over the last few years has received significant grants from international donor agencies which enabled them to carry on and even expand their activities. Furthermore, Daniela has been monitoring AJAM and helping the organization to develop an evaluation of its work and a strategic plan. When the German ecclesiastical agency MISSIO sent a medical doctor to check on the content, the management, the execution and the impact of the project, the positive report was a big boost for raising funds and constituted a confirmation of SOFIA’s initial positive feeling about the Apostles of Jesus and their AIDS Ministries project.
Drought Emergency 2017
In Spring 2017, the most severe drought in East Africa in decades has caused failed harvests and widespread livestock deaths in Kajiado, depriving the local ethnic Maasai community of their very livelihood. SOFIA in cooperation with AJAM has successfully applied to the Irish donor agency Misean Cara for an emergency grant of 15,000 € for food relief to be distributed to 1,200 poor households (about 8,400 people) in Emboliey, one of the most stricken locations. Unfortunately, the drought continues to have devastating effects. Food insecurity and malnutrition rates are alarming with some 150,000 people in need of food assistance, among them about 75,000 children suffering starvation and risking irreversible consequences from malnutrition. The situation calls for continuous joint efforts by all of us, be it Salvatorians or any other potential development partner!