Letter from Nairobi

Mathare Slums the Playground
Mathare Slums the Playground

Through our RFFA Board we have received this letter from an American Rotarian currently in Nairobi visiting the Mathare area where RFFA does a lot of work.  Eric Jacobson is a member of the Rotary Club of Flower Mound in Texas and here is his letter:

“Please pass this note on to my fellow Flower Mound Rotarians.

I am working right now in the Mathare Valley slums of Nairobi and with some of the very Aids orphans that RFFA is assisting.  The poverty is unimaginable.  Rotary is doing something very, very incredible here – giving love and hope where few others venture.  I have had a wonderful meeting with the Rotary leaders here and pass you their deepest gratitude.  I have found myself spontaneously crying more in the past few days here than in the past few years combined.  It is completely wrong for any children on this earth to have to live this way and I have found myself angry with God as I struggle with it.  Aids is a double whammy here and what Rotary and a few other orgs (my wife’s NGO www.alarm-inc.org is another) are doing here is powerful and at this point makes what I do for a living seem ridiculously insignificant.

Please, PLEASE support this cause as I can not imagine a more significant place on this earth where it could be equally felt.  Dig deep and make a difference here and I can assure you that I will bring you back pictures that will cause you to know how worthy this is of your contribution.

Please if you can not make it to the auction tonight then make the basic contribution to be an RFFA member.  I am a fairly new Rotarian as you all know but one of the things that drew me to this amazing org was the hearts of the people in it.  For years, our predecessors stood together to fight Polio and they were relentless.  This is the new war we are fighting.  As your fellow Rotarian, I want to ask each of you to please become a RFFA member and give the small amount that is required of such.  I am sorry but I feel that if we can go to an amazing Rotary fundraiser like Vine and Dine that costs us $200 per couple, then we can certainly put out $100 to stand with our fellow Rotarians over here working fulltime in this effort.  Could we please have 100% participation from the Flower Mound Rotary?

I would appreciate your prayers for my health and safety while here for another week and then an additional week in Uganda.  I will be working with Aids orphans as well up there.  Today, I just dressed as a clown and  brought them soccer balls and shoes and gave them something to smile about.  However, these Rotary heroes are doing something much bigger than that and we will find a cure in our lifetimes.”

God Bless, Eric Jacobson

Rotary Club of Flower Mound Texas.

Rotarians please join us at RFFA click on our logo below for membership information:


The Orphan Rescue Kit at Work

Recently our Rotary District 9700 raised over US$65,000 for Orphan Rescue in Africa.  The first of the monies have been spent in The Ivory Coast and here are some photos of what is being done by RFFA and Hope World wide in Africa:

AND here is a translation of the thank you letter from one of the students who is being looked after by RFFA:

BROU AKE-BLA SYLVIANNE February, 1st 2010, Abidjan

Topic: thankfulness to HOPE CI and ORPHAN RESCUE

My name is Brou Ake-Bla Sylvianne

I am in the 6th form of primary school in a school called “The Success”

I am orphan by my father side and registered in the NGO AHIKOU who does a lot for us in the psychosocial support

This letter is addressed to HOPE and ORPHAN RESCUE; I am grateful for what you do for us, because I have been able to be registered at school thanks to your support; without this help I wouldn’t have been to school this year.


Reagan Omondi’s Pledge

Marion Bunch and Reagan Ondiju from Kenya
Marion Bunch and Reagan Omondi from Kenya

We invite all of you landing on this site to join Reagan Ondiju and his mates on his blog.

Reagan’s Pledge.

To read about RFFA’s latest project in Africa please log onto Reagan’s Pledge above and have a look around.  Young Reagan lives in Mathare one of Nairobi’s worst slums.  Reagan is an outstanding young man and below you can hear Reagan talk with Marion Bunch CEO of RFFA.  {Rotarians for Fighting AIDS}:

South Africa, drug-resistant HIV emerging

In sub-Saharan Africa, where the drugs only started arriving a few years ago, resistance is partly the unforeseen consequence of good intentions. There are not enough drugs to go around, so clinics run out and patients can’t do full courses. The inferior meds available in Africa poison other patients. Misprescriptions are common and monitoring is scarce.

How challenging for everyone.  This is a must read.  Anne Glenn RFFA Board Member

drug-resistant HIV emerging

Progress on paediatric HIV not enough

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations

JOHANNESBURG, 30 November 2009 (PLUSNEWS) – Some headway has been made in mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and young people, but too many are still needlessly infected, and receive little or no treatment, care and support.

“Children have a right to be born free from HIV,” said Michael Sidibé, UNAIDS executive director. “No cost is too high for saving mothers and babies.”

This is according to Children and AIDS: The Fourth Stocktaking Report, launched on 30 November by UNICEF in partnership with UNAIDS, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

The annual report examines evidence of progress in four key areas in 2008: prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), paediatric HIV care and treatment, prevention of HIV among adolescents and young people, and protection and support for children affected by HIV and AIDS.

The most significant progress was in PMTCT, with 45 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women globally receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to prevent them passing HIV to their children; up from 24 percent in 2006.

Several countries with high HIV prevalence expanded PMTCT coverage to most pregnant women needing treatment: 73 percent in South Africa, 91 percent in Namibia and 95 percent in Botswana. Other countries lagged behind: in Nigeria only 10 percent of pregnant women with HIV were tested and treated to prevent transmission to their babies.

The countries most successful at scaling up PMTCT incorporated their programmes into existing maternal and child health services, the report noted.

On the same day, WHO released new recommendations for PMTCT that include providing ARV treatment to all HIV-positive women from 14 weeks of pregnancy until they stop breastfeeding. The new guidelines are expected to further reduce the number of infected infants.

“In many high-income countries paediatric HIV has been virtually eliminated,” commented Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO. “This shows what is possible.”

Approximately 38 percent of children living with HIV were receiving ARV treatment in 2008 – an improvement of nearly 40 percent from 2007 – but still less than the percentage of HIV-positive adults being treated.

Without diagnosis and treatment, AIDS mortality in infants is highest in the first two months of life, but globally only 15 percent of babies were tested for HIV by the time they were two months old.

The report pointed out that even an HIV-positive diagnosis did not guarantee a child would receive treatment. A Clinton Foundation study from eight countries found that 53 percent of HIV-positive mothers and their children were lost to follow-up after birth.

The situation of children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS improved little in 2008, with only one in eight households caring for such children receiving medical, financial or educational assistance.

Underfunded and understaffed social welfare ministries struggled to deliver services to children affected by AIDS, leaving community and faith-based organizations to try filling the gaps. “The current economic crisis, if prolonged, is likely to worsen such outcomes unless efforts are undertaken to mitigate its impact,” the report warned.

Despite modest increases among young people in their knowledge of HIV and how to prevent it, those aged 15 years to 24 years still accounted for 45 percent of new adult infections in 2008, with girls in sub-Saharan Africa by far the hardest hit.

The report concluded that investments in HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment for women and children were paying off, but needed to be bolstered and used more wisely. Programmes should be informed by evidence, and constantly monitored and evaluated for impact.

World AIDS Day December 1 2009

In Uganda with Marion Bunch
In Uganda with Marion Bunch

Dear Rotarians

Rotarians For Fighting AIDS, Inc. (RFFA) shares a greeting card and an inspiring message of hope with Rotarians everywhere as we Honor World AIDS Day, December 1, 2009.  These notes, pictures and paintings are sent by two groups of Kenyan school children who represent only a small fraction of the 12 million HIV/AIDS Orphans living on the continent of Africa today.

Thanks to so many of you who have supported RFFA’s work, the children who send their vision of a world free of HIV/AIDS are in school today.  They are there because you gave the gift of education and hope for the future by paying for their school fees, supplies and uniforms.  We want you to see and read about the world you are changing.

Did you know that even basic education is not free in Kenya?  An orphan child has no way of affording any school without assistance from concerned adults like our Rotarian partners in so many countries.  These children sent their thanks and their vision to all of you for your kindness and generosity.  As RFFA’s Board of Directors, we are deeply grateful as well.

We invite all Rotarians to join Rotarians For Fighting AIDS, Inc., and our Founder and CEO Marion Bunch, as we continue to help the orphans and vulnerable children of Africa achieve their dreams.  Visit our website www.rffa.org for more information.

Sincerely Yours In Rotary Service,

The Board of Directors

Rotarians For Fighting AIDS, Inc.

“This is our country. It’s so beautiful. Everybody
is health there and no AIDS in our country.”
Leah Wanoro, Age 12, Cura Village, Kenya
When asked to imagine a world without AIDS

“My name is Alice and I am health.” When asked to describe a future without
HIV/AIDS, that is how twelve year old Leah Wonoro, an HIV/AIDS orphan of Cura Village,
Kenya, began her drawing. We hope that you will join Leah and the other Orphans and
Vulnerable Children who live in the Cura Rotary Home and attend Primary School; the
youth of the Valley View Academy in Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya; and Rotarians For Fight-
ing AIDS as we honor World AIDS Day 2009 by imagining a future of hope, a future free of HIV/AIDS and a
future made possible through the power of Rotary”


ORK Challenge in District 9700 a Success!

The ORK Supporters Rae and Fred Loneragan and Susan Pearse
The ORK Supporters Rae and Fred Loneragan and Susan Pearse

A year has passed since Past District Governor Fred and Rae Loneragan started the ORK awareness programme throughout District 9700 and after 42 visits to the Rotary clubs in D 9700 PDG Fred has raised around US $65,000 from donations from the clubs in our district.

The funds raised will be going to RFFA’s Orphan Rescue Kits in Kenya, The Ivory Coast and South Africa.   PDG Fred and Rae Loneragan should be congratulated on a magnificent effort in achieving such a wonderful result.

Megan McDonald Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar

Megan mcDonbald at the Red Rose School in Kibera
Megan McDonald at the Red Rose School in Kibera, KENYA.

I thought that some of you maybe interested in this post on a blog by Megan McDonald a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar supported by District 5320 in California.

We should all be very proud of this young lady whom I had the privilege of meeting in LA 2008.  Her writing is wonderful and I have followed her exploits over the past 12 months.  Megan is due to leave Kenya soon for home in California.

Here is Megan’s latest post to her blog and it is a powerful piece of writing and describes the indescribable.

Thank you Megan, you have encapsulated what we are doing for some of these children you describe below, through our Orphan Rescue Kit with RFFA and Hope World Wide in Kenya.

On the inside

Posted: 08 Jun 2009 01:52 PM PDT

Have you seen The Constant Gardener? Do you remember the rolling sprawl of rusted tin roofs in Kibera? Did the movie capture the fractured earth, the plastic bag-choked bits of green amidst the ever-present brown?

I went to Kibera for the first time shortly after I arrived here to visit Red Rose School. I wore the wrong shoes, and was cautioned that were I ever to go through the gate next to the school that beckoned into the depths of the slum I better make sure my feet were covered. I’ve been back many times since to the inner Toi market (fabulous used clothing market, I have a friend who got an authentic Louis Vuitton for under $1) and Makina market where my tailor is. All these visits allowed me to say, “yes, I’ve been to Kibera” though none of them in anyway conveyed the reality of the place I visited for the first time today. The border does not betray the inner sanctum’s reality. No, it does not.

My class had a field day today where we were tasked with visiting an acting development project. I arranged for us to visit school empowerment groups in Kibera that are being run as part of my house mate Megan’s organization, Zanna. I’ve been wanting to visit for ages and this was a great opportunity to do so. Plus, the vision and strategy behind Zanna is exactly what I think the development field needs in order to have a hope and a prayer of actually solving the problems that continue to permeate countries like Kenya.

The first thing you notice about Kibera is the abundance of children, all of whom seem to be the same size. It’s like a slum full of four year olds, all fluent in the language of “How are you!” of which as a mzungu I heard continuously throughout my visit. Then you realize how careful you’re being walking, and the sense of risk you feel as you attempt to peel your eyes from the uneven ground in order to take in the sites and smells around you. A butcher. A sausage cart toiling as it would over a cobbled street but leaving a trail of loose rock in its wake. Mamas and babies peeking out of low, dark windows. A woman in a purple lesso sifting and lightly blowing on maize with a rhythmic toss. Children everywhere, laughing and running, holding hands. A pair no more than three, each wearing one blue flip flop on the opposite foot. What friendship.

I admit I loved being there. I loved the children running by and giving me high fives. I love any opportunity to be reminded how people survive and make the most of the worst of conditions. To find an alternative to the individual stories of grief and despair, to the continued political and ethnic debauchery, the remaining IDPs, the rampant corruption. The sun was shining. Life continues.

One of our professors, a recent PhD graduate assisting our research-burdened tenured staff walked with me for a time. He couldn’t contain his disgust, his frustration at the scene. He takes it more personally than even I do for all my struggles with the inadequacies of humanity. How can some of us rock climb for fun while others build houses upon shifting land amidst rocks of poverty-laden rubble? He is Kenyan, these are his people. This is his land, right nearby the “poor” area he himself lives in. An area that cannot compare to the filth of Kibera.

Kibera, for all the attention it has received, is no joke. Incomes, where they exist, are cobbled together. I passed many tarps of odds and ends – rusted wrenches, dented mechanical parts I could not name, bits of old metal and wire for which I couldn’t imagine a purpose. Every once in awhile a shiny mobile phone. On one tarp, a single upside down porcelain urinal filled with buttons.

It is hard to reconcile my ability to see the beauty, joy and goings on of life in the slum, with the revolting site you have to process in order to know it must be changed. The land is sucked of the green. The water is scarce, the trash unbelievable. Children meander through filth, shining their glorious youth and innocence in order to make it human, to make it bearable.

There is music, constant music. There are babies being held, old men shooting the shit, hunched grandmas walking together. It is life, at the same time as it should, and never should, be.


D9700 Continues to Support The ORK

The RFFA Orphan Rescue Kit Stand
The RFFA Orphan Rescue Kit Stand in Young

At the D9700 assembly District Governor Elect Irene Jones said that D9700 will continue to support the Orphan Rescue Kit and the project is listed in the new 09/10 D9700 directory.  Thank you DG Irene for your wonderful support.

RFFA’s Three Major Programmes

Rotary LA 2008 the RFFA Stand
Rotary LA 2008 the RFFA Stand

RFFA promotes the following three programmes at major conventions such as the Rotary International annual conventions.  This year 2009 it will be held in Birmingham UK and a great programme of key note speakers has been planned including Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Birmingham

RFFA’s Orphan Rescue program provides funding for Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s school fees, school uniforms and supplies, mosquito net and sports equipment. This program was created in response to international Rotarians interest in helping the vulnerable children in Africa. A single donation of $450 (made through RFFA’s website) provides funds for one child for one year. The Orphan Rescue Kit is a crucial component of the assistance RFFA and international Rotarians bring to the HIV-Free Generation project. Every child returned to school becomes someone more aware of HIV and the risks the disease holds for their future. In turn, these children communicate these risks, and the benefits of voluntary HIV testing to their families, friends and the larger community. Educated, hopeful OVC who believe they have a future are “HIV Free’s” greatest advocates.

The need to scale up this program is huge!

RFFA’s Kidz Clubs are organized groups established for children and formed within the communities where OVC live. Meeting after school each week, Kidz Clubs allow children to participate in different activities offering practical coping strategies for many of the situations they might encounter. Kidz Clubs are facilitated by youth who live in the community and have been uniquely trained to facilitate and provide psychosocial support for these groups.

Kidz Clubs also provide opportunities to identify specific needs of individual children as well as addressing the community’s wider concerns. These children need proper health care practices, emotional support (coping with losses), self esteem building skills, nutrition, shelter, protection from abuse, education on the rights of a child (with referral network services), and economic empowerment training. These needs are addressed and services are provided within the Kidz Club structure. International Rotarians have been incorporating funding for Kidz Clubs along with the Orphan Rescue funds. Once again, the need to scale up this program is huge.

Finally, the one program that brings together all the services mentioned herein is Rotary’s Community Corps (RCC). RCC is composed of youth in a designated geographic area who believe “the solution to a community’s issues come from within” that community. An RCC has approximately 30 members (organized similarly to a regular Rotary Club). It is sponsored by a local Rotary Club, and the Rotarians mentor, train, and economically empower the RCC leaders. In coordination with the Rotary Clubs who sponsor an RCC, HOPE worldwide Kenya trains and mentors the RCC leaders in Kidz Club management, psychosocial support and basic counseling skills for children. The RCCs are engaged along with other community members/stakeholders that include the chief/sub chief, district children’s officer, community based organizations and church leaders, and other NGOs in the area. As RCC members continue to engage in community activities, a request will be made for those most active and qualified to obtain further training. This training will include instruction to become VCT counselors.

Building the capacity and abilities of RCCs in Nairobi enables local youth (RCC) to reach thousands of other youth, Orphans and Vulnerable Children, and their peer groups with the messages of HIV Free living!

Please consider supporting RFFA and our Orphan Rescue Kits.

Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation

Nairobi, Kenya – In a new partnership coordinated by the U.S. Government through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), leaders from the private sector are joining forces with the public sector and non-governmental organizations to revolutionize HIV prevention for youth through the Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation (HIV-Free Generation).

PEPFAR & HIV Free Generation

One of the partners in this exiting programnme is RFFA or Rotarians For Fighting AIDS.  RFFA is headed by RotariAn Marion Bunch who says:  “As you know, RFFA/Rotarians are fulfilling the “educational need” and trying to get these kids back into school. We Rotarians are part of a huge network that is reaching out to these kids.   We hope to create a solid Best Practice Model for the youth — we have lots of help from these icons of industries such as Coca Cola, Nike, Warner Bros. and the press release can be found here:

RFFA Dec 08 Newsletter PEPFAR

Please contact John Glassford for any further informaton on how the Orphan Rescue Kit, The ORK, fits into this exting new partnership.  Email [email protected] or call 61 2 6927 6027.

Work on this partnership has begun through the Mission to Kenya. The web site below is one way of providing education it is created by warner Bros one of our partners:

Warner Brothers.

It is an interesting web site and I found the clips of the videos although in Swahili of great potential to get a message accross to the youth of Kenya.  There is aso plenty of information you can down load from teh above web site.  Most of all please continue to support the Orphan Rescue Kit as this project underlines the work being done by RFFA in Africa.

Wagga Wagga High School Supports The ORK

Students of Wagga Wagga High School Raise $1,750.00

Here are some photographs of the presentation of the funds raised by the students of the Wagga Wagga High School.  It is indeed a wonderful effort from these students led by their teacher, Denise Flockton, a Rotarian from Wagga Wagga Sunrise Club.   Two of the students Annie Horton and Meg Finemore presented the cheque to our District Governor Fred Loneragan today.  I would like to congratulate these wonderful young members of our community.  I am sure that there are plenty of others who were involved too numerous to mention here.

I would also like to thank their Head Master Mathew Brown for his encouragement and support and I know that we will be seeing a lot more of Wagga Wagga High School in the future.  THank you so much from all of us in RFFA.   You have set a remarkable example to the people of the Riverina of New South Wales and beyond.   In these tough economic times you have shown true leadership and empathy for the orphans of Africa.  I hope that some of you may be able to visit Africa one day.  Maybe to climb a mountain with us!

The Mountains of the Moon.

{Do not forget to click on the photos for a larger image.  Then click again for an even larger image.}

{Photos by Fred Edwards, thanks Fred.}