A non-Governmental Organisation, Heartland Alliance International Nigeria (HAI), has given a report card of its intervention programmes aimed “at mitigating the physiological, psychosocial and economic impact of those living with HIV/AIDS and, the injustices and abuses suffered by… marginalized, vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations including men, women, youths, and key population groups across Nigeria.”
In a statement signed by the Country Director/Chief of Party, Bartholomew Ochonye, Heartland Alliance International Nigeria said that it wanted to showcase “the practices adopted and lessons learned from the incredible work that has been done in the process of providing access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support to these key populations in Nigeria, and the partnership forged with various Community Based Organizations (CBOs), an open house event held.
The statement reads thus:
For the past 10 years, Heartland Alliance International Nigeria (HAI) has championed the cause of marginalized, vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations including men, women, youths, and key population groups across Nigeria.
HAI interventions are aimed at mitigating the physiological, psychosocial and economic impact of those living with HIV/AIDS and, the injustices and abuses suffered by this groups.
The decade old inspiring work has been undertaken through a strategic approach of targeted education, advocacy, capacity building, economic empowerment, HIV treatment and prevention and,the protection of the human rights of vulnerable and marginalized individuals.
To showcase the successes recorded, best practices adopted and lessons learned from the incredible work that has been done in the process of providing access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support to these key populations in Nigeria,and the partnership forged with various Community Based Organizations (CBOs), an open house event held.
It had in attendance several development partners and members of the diplomatic corps including David Young(United States Embassy), Chelsea Buurman (Netherlands Embassy), Stephen Haykin(USAID), Onyinye Ndubuisi(UNDP), Amee Schwitters(CDC) and Erasmus Morah (UNAIDS) among others.
Government representatives were also present including Felicia Obembe(Nigerian Police), Victor Olaore Omoshehin (NEPWHAN),Drs Inyang Asibong and Daniel Iya Commissioners of Health of Cross River and Nasarawa respectively.
Also, present were Dr. Golden Owhondi from Rivers stateMinistry of Health, Dr.Nkereuwem Etok, Dr.Rose Inyambi, Dr. Fisher Oladipupo, Dr. G.M Dura, Dr Francis Naazigar, Dr Umar Zacharyfrom the Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos, Benue Rivers and Nasarawa SACAs.
To be sure, in the 10 years of working in Nigeria, HAI has implemented programs in different states across the six geopolitical zones of the country: Akwa Ibom, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Enugu, FCT, Kaduna, Kano, Nasarawa, and Rivers. Currently the “Integrated Most at Risk Populations HIV Prevention Program” (IMHIPP) funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID -2009-2018) is under implementation.
Other projects include the “Enhancing Key Population Intervention in Nigeria” funded by the Society for Family Health (SFH) in 2014, the Innovative Grant on sexual reproductive health and rights (2014), DFID funded Voices for Change (V4C) in 2014 and the NACA and the West Africa Infectious Diseases Institute (WAIDI) operational research grant in 2015.
Most recently in 2017, HAI partnered with the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (DOS/JTIP) and Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to conduct trainings on Trafficking in Persons and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS). The trainings were for service providers and survivors of trafficking within the ongoing Lake Chad Basin insurgency crisis affecting Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
Stakeholders expressed their appreciation for the incredible landmark achieved by HAI in a decade, especially in grooming and funding local organizations who has acquired needed skills to impact their communities positively, and,particularly for saving lives. Dr. Okoro of FACA thanked HAI Nigeria ‘for going to the areas where others are afraid to go’. Joy Davison, a program beneficiary agreed stating ‘HAI should also be known as GHH – giving hope to the hopeless’. It was all summed up by the HAI country director who admonished that ‘the world will be a better place if we see services to marginalized and vulnerable populations as a moral imperative’
HAI is the global arm of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, a family of organizations that has been leading anti-poverty and social justice work in Chicago, USA for more than 129 years. The focus of HAI Nigeria centers on human rights, access to justice, gender, mental health and psychosocial support, as well as HIV treatment and prevention, with a broad strategy to invest in the communities where serve,” the statement concluded.