Nigerian Child Protection Act defines a child as under the age of 18, declaring children should be subjected to abuse, neglect, torture, inhuman punishment or discrimination of any kind. Yet many children are still at risk of these injustices. Communities have been united concerned with security and demonstrate a genuine interest for the wellbeing of children in teaching them on these matters.
Emergency Infant Care
Infants are abandoned or left behind when their mother dies in childbirth, in these emergencies the babies are brought to GECHAAN Lifeline where they are evaluated by the medical staff. With financial contributions infant necessities can be purchased in Nigeria. The caregiver is required to attend classes on general infant care to minimize illness and must bring the child in weekly for checkups. Typically, an average of 50 children are enrolled.
Seminars on the spread of HIV have been presented to school personnel, Christian and Muslim teachers, PTA members, and parents.
Secondary school students compete in debates and HIV/AIDS knowledge, and participate in HIV prevention dramas. This has created a higher interest in learning more of the disease.
Sessions with principals and teachers were helpful in identifying the importance of parents and educators in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
NYSC is working with the Nigerian Youth Service Corp university graduates in doing their required year of community service. They actively participate with GEHCAAN as Peer Educators on HIV/AIDS. The NYSC personnel also conduct awareness visits to villages along with HIV testing, counseling, and testing.
Fellowship of Christian Students is active in many secondary schools providing weekend activities and retreats for youth open to hearing the Gospel and willing to participate in premarital sexual abstinence clubs.
Thrive Alive is a movement primarily made of youth who have graduated from secondary school but cannot afford to apply for university education. This is a difficult period of life for these youth and they are often at risk for HIV infection.
CANADA Cares: Scholarships are given to orphaned children who have the academic credentials and desire to attend a school of higher education and have. CANADA Cares was selected on the basis of their incredible concern and generosity exhibited for Nigerian youth. Currently there are three students enrolled.
Special Projects to Meet Human Need
IMPACT LIVES – Supplements for Malnourished Children & Pregnant Women
When poverty reaches a certain level a shortage of food may follow which creates suffering and pain among the population. When parents are ill for extended periods of time children may not be fed properly with nutritious food that build their bodies. Severely malnourished children become weak and unstable. IMPACT LIVES is an organization based in the Minneapolis, MN that coordinates the supply, packaging, and shipping of food to Gembu for distribution.
Grandmothers Helping Grandmothers
When parents are lost to HIV/AIDS related diseases the children are placed in the care of their grandparents. Grandparents can find themselves in very difficult circumstances without an acceptable building for shelter. This program seeks to assist these noble grandmothers by build a modest house with land and the house deed. Currently one or two homes have been constructed annually.
People Living With HIV/AIDS Support Groups
HIV/AIDS stigmas do not make it easy to form a group of HIV positive people in rural villages. Patients were not eager to come together for meetings or discussions when other villagers knew of their HIV status. Finally, village communities were convinced that isolating a patient or running away from an infected person is not advisable.
Gender Equality Campaign
A village to village gender equality campaign may seem like a waste of time. For centuries this male-dominated culture took pride in the control of female population. GECHAAN networked with the UN Women to promote human rights and gender equality. The emphasis laid the groundwork to establish small business cooperatives among women in their neighborhoods. Furthermore, it enabled efforts to teach couples how to talk with their spouse and children about HIV/AIDS prevention.
Jauro, a chief, initiated HIV/AIDS prevention committees in every village in his domain. To our surprise, every committee had a woman and a youth included in it. The movement to include women in the process of making difficult decisions began to empower them in the battle against HIV/AIDS. In most villages this is unprecedented.
Neighborhood Couples: Be Faithful Groups
Be Faithful Groups is a development that emerged out of gender equality training. Several couples took their observations to another level by introducing the concept that in talking as couples they would gain strength to remain faithful to their spouse. Now there are nearly 50 Be Faithful Groups functioning throughout GECHAAN locations. Uniquely, couples from all backgrounds and religions are eager to participate. The theme of these groups is healthy behavior for you and your family.
Grants to Community Development Organization (CBO)
Fourteen CBOs have been developed by community organizations to address ongoing issues related to the current epidemic. Empowering communities will enable them to care for the multitudes of orphaned children.
Voices of Hope Radio
On a weekly basis a 30 minute program concerning HIV/AIDS prevention is aired on a local radio station. The program covers all aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by putting it in local terms and different approaches to give advice. The topics covered range from simple prevention of infection to the care of orphans. The programs air in both English and Fulfulde languages. Voices of Hope seeks to engage many different persons in the community by hosting pastors, imams, chiefs, community leaders, and GECHAAN staff as program presenters.
Board of Directors
A significant part of the strategic plan for GECHAAN is focused on including as many nationals in the administration as is affordable. The fundamental issue is to include nationals and challenge them to take vital leadership roles while expatriates remain as colleagues and partners in the process projects.