Summer 2010 News from SAYFSM
Tadese Negasa joins SAYFSM to provide medical case management services. He emigrated from Oromia in 2006. Tadese has vast experience as a medical doctor and as an HIV/AIDS counselor and prevention educator in Ethiopia and Botswana. Mr. Negasa received his medical degree from Addis Ababa University/Gondar College of Medical Sciences in Ethiopia in 1994 and is certified in HIV/AIDS Counseling, HIV/AIDS Anti-retroviral Therapy, and HIV Education and Prevention.
Anita Kaneza joins SAYFSM as our Outreach Coordinator. She comes to Minnesota from Burundi. Anita received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota in Public Health with a minor in Family Social Science. Anita’s volunteer experience includes mentoring at 180 Degrees and serving as a health care advocate at Resource. Her involvement in the community includes serving as a member of the Community Cooperative Council on HIV/AIDS Prevention and African Health Action. She is fluent in Kirundi, French, and English.
We are grateful for all that Tadesa and Anita have to offer and we are delighted to have them join our team.
Ephraim Olani and Anita Kaneza have made several trips to both Willmar and Worthington to set in place services for African immigrants who have recently moved to these areas. SAYFSM with the Minnesota Department of Health is working with local health care and social service providers, community leaders, and representatives of the organizations currently hiring many of the African immigrants who have moved to Minnesota.
A site visit to Worthington and JBS Swift plant in March revealed that African immigrants in Worthington face significant barriers to accessing care and in general underuse medical services; there are few, if any community-based organizations serving the community.
SAYFSM traveled to Worthington do attend the JBS Swift health fair. SAYFSM operated an information table and display and distributed materials to JBS Swift employees regarding HIV/AIDS and SAYFSM’s services. We also provided information regarding our program. About 14 Africans visited our resource table and mentioned they would like to visit SAYFSM once they come to the Twin Cities for future collaboration.
SAYFSM held conversations with the Kandiyohi County Public Health and African Community Services, Somali Women’s Connection Center, and Somali Women Organization in Willmar. These discussions revealed that there are an estimated 600 African immigrants living in Willmar and that despite the community-based organizations operating in Willmar, African populations are still underserved and in a position to benefit from health education and HIV testing.
SAYFSM traveled to Willmar to conduct an HIV education session for African women. Approximately 35 women attended. Course content included the ways in which HIV is transmitted and HIV prevention. SAYFSM materials were also distributed. Women attending the class expressed a need for further education sessions targeted at men and high-risk youth. The following month, SAYFSM held another education session. Turnout was increased to approximately 100 people with both men and women attending.
The agency educates the community about HIV prevention and risk reduction, presenting at community events, in small group settings at ESL classes, churches, youth gatherings, and to groups of newly resettled refugees. SAYFSM began delivering HIV education and risk reduction to new refugees from Africa in March 2006 at Lutheran Social Service, Minnesota Council of Churches, and World Relief, three of Minnesota’s volunteer resettlement agencies. SAYFSM also develops culturally and linguistically appropriate television and radio programs, dramas, and written materials to effectively reach the general African-born population. SAYFSM provides free HIV testing at all outreach events, the SAYFSM office, or at a place of an individual’s choosing. Free testing was delivered to 19 women and 29 men in 2009. This is an increase of 31 individuals who received testing over the number of individuals tested the previous year.
- HIV/AIDS Support Group:
SAYFSM facilitates a culturally appropriate support group for African immigrants and refugees living with HIV. The group meets every other Saturday, and, once a year, participants and their family members attend a weekend retreat. Trained, culturally competent facilitators foster a supportive environment and provide participants with education that empowers them to take care of themselves, reduce risks of superinfections and HIV transmission, and disclose their status to their partners and community. Outside of the group meetings, participants are offered a framework of support, such as referrals, counseling, and emergency interventions for food and shelter. SAYFSM provides transportation to the meetings, child care, and food. In 2009, 34 adults participated in the support group. They came from 11 African countries and Trinidad. Participants included Christians, Muslims, and followers of traditional beliefs.
SAYFSM held an educational weekend retreat in June 2009 for support group participants and their families. GlaxoWelcome sponsored a well-known HIV physician to speak at the event. The retreat was well attended and included many new clients and their children. As a result of these services, Support Group participants’ knowledge of health issues, especially concerning HIV, medication adherence, and risk reduction increased; and their adherence to medication and their emotional and physical health improved.
- Care Advocacy:
SAYFSM provides an array of services to meet the many needs of individuals living with HIV, including assistance with basic needs, such as housing, furniture, household items, food, clothing, employment; referrals to clinics, mental health providers, legal services, ESL classes; translation and interpreting; and transportation to appointments and SAYFSM activities. One full-time staff member provides care advocacy for those individuals needing one-time or short-term help. From January 1 through June 30, 2010, care advocacy was delivered to 80 individuals (20 men, 32 women, 8 teens, and 20 children). This is a 28% increase over 2009 for a six-month period.
- Medical Case Management:
Two part-time staff provide SAYFSM’s culturally appropriate medical case management, meeting the needs of African individuals living with HIV/AIDS who need longer-term, intensive support. The case managers conduct risk assessments and create care plans to address client needs from a holistic perspective. They help clients access health services and promote quality health outcomes, empowering them with education about HIV/AIDS, treatment, and medication options, and help clients access necessary resources to address housing, transportation, employment, education, legal, insurance, or other needs. In 2009, SAYFSM offered Medical Case Management Services to 30 individuals.
- Women’s Self-Sufficiency Program:
This program is primarily for African-born women living with HIV/AIDS, but is open to all African women, regardless of HIV status, in order to protect the confidentiality of participants’ HIV status. Participants attend sewing classes and receive health education about HIV/AIDS and other topics. They are provided support that empowers them to take control of their lives, boost their self-esteem, and improve their mental and physical health. Classes are held in the Iris Park Building in St. Paul in a classroom equipped with 10 sewing machines and 1 industrial machine. Each course lasts six months. Ten women graduate from each course with a demonstrated ability to cut patterns and sew clothing for themselves and their family members. In May 2010, an advanced-level class was offered for the first time. This class allows women who have completed the first class to continue developing their sewing skills while enhancing their identification as self-determined women.
This is a children’s program that was begun with a small amount of seed money in July 2006. Ijole, the Oromo word for “children,” is for children who are infected with or affected by HIV. The children range in age from 5 years–14 years. In 2009, 22 children and their families attended trips to museums, zoos, swimming pools, and many other entertainment and educational venues. Through Ijole, SAYFSM encourages support group parents to take a more active role in their children’s lives by inviting them to participate in quality activities with their children and their children’s peers/friends and parents. The children have field trip opportunities to cultural, educational, and recreational venues. Parents are encouraged to attend with their children. Field trip venues have included a bowling alley, Maple Grove Community Center, movie theaters, the Ordway, Como Zoo, the Science Museum, and the Children’s Museum. During June and July this year, twenty-five children participated in the program events.Executive Director has Green Thumb
If you have trouble finding Ephraim these days, you might try looking in the garden. In an effort acquaint himself with the concept of community gardens and their potential future as a part of SAYFSM programming, Ephraim has joined the Green Spirit Community Garden in St. Paul. The location is excellent as it is located just two miles from the office and the community gardeners have been very welcoming and helpful.
All summer Ephraim has been tending the plot, watering and weeding, and many wonderful vegetables are now growing there.
SAYFSM hopes to expand this one plot to include many others tended by SAYFSM clients, families, and friends. Community gardening is an excellent way to join with the community to share, grow food, find sanctuary, heal, and honor the earth. Updates on Ephraim’s garden and future community garden plans will be posted here.
“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
Mahandas K. Gandhi
On May 16, 2010, SAYFSM AIDS Walk Team raised $550. 12 team members walked the course along with SAYFSM staff to raise money and awareness for HIV education and prevention and to encourage others to help. The money raised goes directly to prevention efforts and serving Minnesotans affected by HIV. It is important more now than ever because funding is being cut while the number of those being affected by HIV increases. Thank you for your support as we work towards stopping HIV in Minnesota.
Thank you Normandale Lutheran Church for providing over 28 backpacks for area African children. The gift also includes a donation for the purchase of sneakers and gym uniforms. These children can now go to school, proudly sporting a brand new backpack filled with all the supplies they need for the coming school year! What a blessing to not feel left out or “different” because you don’t have the same fine gear and supplies as your classmates. Thanks to all of the volunteers who purchased the items and saw that they got to SAYFSM on time. Our children are delighted. It is a fabulous gift. Thanks for your generosity.