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Announcement :: Human Rights
Fight Alongside Those Living with HIV/ AIDS in West Africa
13 May 2005
***** Please distribute to family, friends and others who might help *****

I'm writing to ask for some urgently needed support and solidarity from you, your friends, your family, and/or anyone who might be willing. Over the past week, 4 of my brother, Kevin's, friends died and 5 are in critical condition in the hospital including an 18 month old child. We need help for these people and to prevent this from happening soon to hundreds of others.

As some of you know, my brother is fighting with his friends living with HIV and AIDs in Togo, West Africa. His friends are part of a new self-organized association of people living with HIV and AIDS- Associacion Espoir Pour Demain (AED)- working both to care for each other and to prevent other people from being infected. This is the first community-based program of its kind in West Africa and its success not only has implications for those in Togo, but Africa as a whole and the 40 million people living with HIV/ AIDS world-wide. This is an extremely
difficult battle as Togo is the poorest country in West Africa and about twice as poor as Haiti (the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere). It has been ravaged by a history of western intrusion, slavery, colonialism, dictatorial rule and savage economic exploitation. The unemployment rate is 70%, so most people barely get by or don't at all. 90% of the associations members are women who are more vulnerable to the disease and suffer worse because of it due to intensified social gender oppression in these extreme poverty conditions.

I recently got a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Togo to see the work that Kevin and his friends at AED have been doing. And I'll have to say that it was beyond inspiring. To speak with my brother's friends who have every reason to be spiteful or to give up instead filled with love and care fighting to live, broke me down in sadness, profound respect and
inspiration. Kevin told me that his friends express to him that their fight may be a losing battle, but they just want people to show up and fight alongside them. They asking for our human solidarity.

In response to this, about 6 months ago, we started a non-profit association Hope Through Health to help provide technical and financial assistance in solidarity with their efforts. Our all volunteer group spends no donated money on administrative fees (small administrative expenses are all offset outside of this). Hope Through Health and AED's
combined efforts have enabled us to open a 17 room health clinic recently as well as provide ARV AIDS medication, food and vitamins for a nutrition program, and training for an all member-run home visit and check up program. Other programs in development (and in need of funding) will
include a mother to infant transmission prevention program, intense social mobilization programs for greater education and prevention, and other prevention and care programs for the members, run and operated by the members.

However, the operation needs money because there is very little in Togo. Because of this the US Dollar goes a really long way in Togo. The whole operation described can be supported with $50,000 a year. To give a few specific examples of how far the money goes, around $100- $200 can fund the whole nutrition program for a month. And around $2000 funds the local doctor's salary for a year. All money is going straight to help to the comprehensive treatment and care program. For more information on the program, visit our website: Anything that you can contribute from $5 to $5 million would be greatly appreciated. How my
brothers friends live and whether they live depends upon whether we can get the financial support to keep funding the programs. Please try to contribute and/ or get others to contribute what you/ they can. All donations are tax-deductible and can be mailed to:

Hope Through Health
PO Box 605
Medway, MA 02053-0605

We're trying to set up a web-based online transaction service within the next few months, so check-back with our website soon:

Thanks so much,
Thomas Fiori
volunteer/ Director, Hope Through Health

This work is in the public domain
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