President’s Emergency AIDS Relief Plan Funds Program in Rwanda

CHF International to lead the four-year, $40 million cooperative effort

By Christine A. Terada, Washington File Staff Writer

President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has selected a consortium of nongovernmental organizations to work toward providing sustain-able HIV/AIDS services in Rwanda, according to an October 14 press release from CHF International.

Through a four-year, $40 million cooperative agreement, the consortium of four U.S. organizations, led by CHF (Cooperative Housing Foundation) International, will work with local Rwandan partners to implement the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Program (CHAMP).

CHAMP’s objective is “to provide Rwandan communities with equitable access to high-quality and sustainable HIV/AIDS services,” the press release said. In doing so, the program will mobilize and strengthen Rwanda’s government and its organizations and institutions.

The program is designed to help Rwandan communities help themselves, and aims to revitalize AIDS activism by building a powerful community-based movement bridging HIV/AIDS, human rights, and struggles for social and economic justice, the release said.

CHAMP hopes to fulfill this goal by focusing on strengthening the relationships between Rwandan communities, community-based service providers, and medical health service providers. It will also improve and expand HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care services and provide care and support for orphans and vulnerable children.

CHF International, which was called the Cooperative Housing Foundation before 1998 and was originally established in 1952 as the Foundation for Cooperative Housing, is known for its community-based approach. It plans to subgrant a substantial amount of the program’s funding to local Rwandan organizations, thereby empowering them with the financial resources needed to help their communities. It will also provide extensive skills-building assistance to encourage sustainable HIV/AIDS services and strengthen local capacity.

CHF International’s senior vice president, Dr. Judith A. Hermanson, said in the press release: “We are very pleased to be playing a leading role in fighting HIV/AIDS in Rwanda, and commend the U.S. government, the American people, and the government of Rwanda for supporting such an important initiative.”

CHF International’s mission is to be a catalyst for long-lasting, positive change in low- and moderate-income communities around the world, helping them to improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions. The organization was recognized in 2001 for its assisted self-help housing program in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Other organizations participating in CHAMP include Catholic Relief Services, Johns Hopkins University Center for Communications Programs, and Social Impact. According to the release, the program will also work with numerous Rwandan partners, including Rwanda Women’s Network, Caritas, and the Rwanda Network of People Living with AIDS.

The CHAMP program was created in the same spirit as another CHF International HIV/AIDS effort in Kenya -- Local Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS and Grants Management -- also funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

President Bush announced the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in his 2003 State of the Union address. The five-year, $15 billion initiative aims to combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic by focusing on the most afflicted countries in Africa and the Caribbean.