We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
By Joelle Peikes, Communications and Outreach Intern
In honor of World Health Day (April 7, 2014) AUA would like to highlight some of our programs that support healthy living across the globe! This summer we will be sending American volunteers to three placements in three different countries that support local health and health services.
The first of these will be a placement in Zanzibar called ZAYEDESA (The Zanzibar Youth Education Environment Development Support Association). ZAYEDESA provides many services to Zanzibari youth and families. One of their main projects supports the large part of the Zanzibari population affected by or at risk for HIV/AIDS. In 2003 they opened four youth friendly VCT centers and funding has provided training for counselors and peer educators as well as HIV/AIDS and other STI testing. ZAYEDESA also offers an anonymous toll-free National AIDS Helpline that encourages abstinence and fidelity, and discourages alcohol and drug use as means of protection against infection. There is also a program for injection drug users, which educates about the risk of sharing needles and encourages frequent blood testing.
In addition to their HIV/AIDS initiative, ZAYEDESA supported the installation of a new maternity ward at the Government General Hospital complete with modern facilities to ensure safe childbirth. ZAYEDESA also partners with a French NGO called Aide Medicale et Development (AMD) to provide an exchange program between midwives and medical professionals in France and Zanzibar.
The second health program that will receive support from AUA volunteers this summer, is PKBI DIY, the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association. PKBI DIY provides youth education, clinical services and counseling. Since 2005 it has broadened its reach to provide services to marginalized groups in Indonesia such as sex workers, LGBT individuals and those affected by HIV/AIDS. PKBI DIY also campaigns against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender.
Finally, in Tajikistan, volunteers will support an organization called IRODA (Parents of Children with Autism Initiative). IRODA is a unique organization in Tajikistan and the first to provide support to individuals and families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
In South East Asia Autism is still frequently misunderstood and individuals with ASD are often discriminated against. In fact, until recently in Tajikistan ASD was classified as a form of schizophrenia. IRODA advocates for rights and services for people with ASD. They do this through a number of programs including early intervention services, parent support groups, and by collaborating with local health and education institutions and providing training and information about ASD.
World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948. Each year a theme is chosen in order to highlight a global public health issue. This year’s theme is vector-borne diseases. Vectors are organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person (or animal) to another. Vector-borne diseases are illnesses, such as malaria, caused by these pathogens and parasites in human populations. Click here to learn more about vector-borne illnesses and what can be done to prevent these diseases.