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 Alison Muscato
Access to health care and resources is a key challenge in many of the communities where America’s Unofficial Ambassadors are active, providing health information and outreach related to issues like HIV/AIDS through our partner organizations.
Among them is the Zanzibar Youth Education Environment Development Support Association (ZAYEDESA), a non-profit organization in Zanzibar, Tanzania, that helps young people facing socio-economic problems including unemployment, dropping out of school, drug abuse, and, in particular, HIV/AIDS. Though the disease is less prevalent in Zanzibar than elsewhere in the region, international groups estimate the local rate of infection at about .6 percent of population.
ZAYEDESA has a specific project that tackles HIV/AIDS. To address the factors driving Zanzibar’s HIV/AIDS infection rates, ZAYEDESA opened the first HIV/AIDS counseling center in Stone Town, the island’s capital. They also opened 4 Youth Friendly voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) centers where youth can see counselors and speak with peer educators. Peer educators conduct voluntary counseling, test for HIV/AIDS and other Sexual Transmission Infections (STIs), distribute information, education and communication (IEC) materials, and run outreach programs using film, seminars, school debates, sport events, and radio and television talk shows. ZAYEDESA also provides an anonymous toll free National AIDS Helpline.
Deborah Carey, a student at American University, interned at ZAYEDESA through AUA’s 2014 Summer Service Internship program. Deborah worked on social networking and communications outreach at ZAYEDESA, boosting its ability to connect with donors and prospective partners.
“I am constantly moved by the people here, and can only hope that, upon returning, my conversations and presentations about my experience will reflect the connectedness and compassion of this Muslim community.” -Deborah Carey
You can read Deborah’s stories from the field here:
To learn about more service opportunities in Zanzibar, click here.
If you’re thinking of applying to serve in Zanzibar, here are some fast facts and resources about HIV/AIDS from UNAIDS and AVERT.