Friday, September 27, 2013

Have you checked out @LeapAfrica's Social Innovators Programme for Youths Age 18-29?

Social Innovators Programme and Awards 2013
Advocacy, Training & Support for Replicable and Scalable Community Projects

The Social Innovators Programme (SIP) will support talented youth between the ages of 18 and 29, whose ideas and initiatives offer effective solutions to challenges in local communities across Nigeria, with the necessary training, funding, advocacy and network support required to strengthen their existing initiatives and enhance their sustainability and impact. Through the programme’s partnership with the International Youth Foundation’s YouthActionNet® programme (, young innovators will become members of a global network of over 880 change-makers from 70+ countries. Over three months, LEAP will provide selected youth with training and support based on YouthActionNet’s curriculum focused on the “Six Dimensions of Leadership” (Personal, Visionary, Collaborative, Political, Organizational, and Societal).

 The Social Innovators Programme and Awards Launch will hold on Monday, November 11, 2013 at Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan Lagos. The distinguished speaker at this event is Mr. Rick Little, Founder, International Youth Foundation (IYF). The IYF is a global non-profit organization dedicated to preparing young people to become healthy, productive and engaged citizens and has supported LEAP Africa since 2004.

  Do you qualify for the SIP? Applicants must meet the following entry requirement to be considered for the programme. They must be:
  • Nigerians resident in Nigeria (not Nigerians in the Diaspora).
  • Between ages 18 – 29 years.
  • Initiators# of such projects/initiatives/organisations that are positively impacting local communities and lives of Nigerians particularly in achieving the MDGs through their creativity and innovation.
  • Able to document and prove their work, benefits and some level of sustenance amongst communities and Nigeria for a minimum of 12 months prior to date of application for the SIP.
Twenty (20) social innovators will be enrolled into the programme. Participants will undergo two different 5-day trainings within a 6 month interval. The SIP will be offered free of charge and the programme covers cost of accommodation, road travel, feeding and daily stipends.

  Steps to Applying 1. Like our page on facebook,
  1. Follow us on twitter, or @leapafrica & mention the programme you are applying for – with a #tag (e.g Chike Adeyemi Abu/#SIP2013).
  2. Visit to download the application forms and email to sipa@leapafrica.
Application deadline is October 7th, 2013.

  Programme Details

 Location: Lagos State

 Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the SIP team at or call 012706541/2, 07011081954 if you have any questions or concerns.

***Applicant must be a founder or co-founder of the project/organization which has been running for not less than one (1) year. The founder or co-founder is defined as the person who, either alone or as part of a team, conceiving and establishing the project/organization.

About LEAP Africa
 Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism (LEAP) Africa is a non-profit organization committed to developing dynamic, innovative and principled African leaders. Since 2002, through its core Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) and Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards (ANYLA), LEAP has advanced the cause of youth-led community consciousness for development in Nigeria.

 Watch a recap of LEAP’s video on CNN Inside Africa: Or on 

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[Photos]: Older Persons Are Taking the Lead in HIV Prevention Through VCT in Rural Community

Agunji, a community in Nassarawa Eggon, woke up last week Thursday to an announcement of the town crier (Public Relations Officer). They were called to converge under the mango tree opposite the only Primary Health Center in the village for a medical outreach.

Although the news was announced in the early hours of the morning, many people did not turn up until about 11.00am due to their busy farming activities.

"The people here are majorly farmers," says Anthony Adzo, the village’s town crier (i.e. PRO).

Adzo is in his 50s. He says he went round the different houses located within the community to inform the people of the medical outreach that was scheduled to take place that day.

Adzo held a small gong and a stick, the tools he used for his announcement. He sounded his gong to get the people’s attention as he walked through the village, and then spoke to the people in Eggon, the local language.

Adzo says there are about 1,000 people, including women and children, in Agunji village. He assured the medical team from the General Hospital secondary health centre that the people would amass for the HIV awareness campaign.

According to one of the members of the medical team, the purpose of the Agunji medical outreach sponsored by an international organization was to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. The team planned to provide free Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) for the people while also informing them about the anti-stigma bill that has been passed into law in Nasarawa state. The law seeks to protect people affected by or living with HIV/AIDS in Nasarawa state from stigma and discrimination.

There are about eighty thousand (80,000) people living with HIV in the state, according to statistics released by the Nasarawa State AIDS Control Agency (NASACA). With a 7.5% prevalence rate, the state currently has one of the highest rates in Nigeria. Medical outreach in rural areas is one of the strategies set up by the state to fight the spread of the virus.

When the one-day HIV awareness campaign kicked off in Agunji that morning, only older persons in the community came to the venue. The villagers said they were suspicious of the intentions of the medical team. After deliberating among themselves, the older men concluded that the government could not possibly have sent the medical staffs to inject them with what will kill them. After a while, the younger age group in the village joined the volunteers to take part in the outreach.

Photo report:

The only Primary Health Centre in Agunji village

Aya Achuku, 70, is among the older persons who volunteered to be tested and counseled. 

Achuku says he missed the opening lecture. Without prior knowledge about HIV and AIDS, he was happy to know his HIV status that day, he said.

When the campaign kicked off, only older persons in the community came to the venue. The villagers said they were suspicious of the intentions of the medical team.

Hadiza Malaimi, 50, taking the test. HIV and AIDS awareness is important for older persons because they can actively participate in passing on the knowledge to their family and positively influence a healthy lifestyle.

Mariama Usman, early 60s, registering for the VCT session after the lecture.

Usman, being led to the queue for HIV test

Usman waiting her turn at the testing session     
Usman is being tested for HIV 

   Usman, during the post-HIV test counseling.

A man re-assuring the medical team of the villagers’ receptiveness towards the outreach.

Merasa James, 15, taking her HIV test. The younger generation were encouraged by the presence of the older ones.

People in Agunji often blame health challenges on witchcraft. The outreach educated the people on ways HIV can be transmitted and measures on how to prevent it.

Medical lab technician, Felix Joseph and Idris Mbawa, tested about seventy (70) people before running out of testing kits. None of those tested were HIV positive.

The Anti-Retroviral Treatment centre at Nasawara state’s secondary health centre has a mandate to carryout medical outreach in rural areas to ensure the people in villages are not left out in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

 Felix Emmanuel, 30, came for the HIV test with his daughter. However, he was the only one tested because the medical team had exhausted all the testing kits.

Although there is no electricity in Agunji, some of the youths have mobile access for communication.

About five minutes drive from Agunji is this modern health center built in 2008 in a village called Kagbu. But the hospital is still under lock and key.

The health centre was built as part of MDGs’ quickwins project in 2008. When the health center is eventually opened, people in neighboring villages like Agunji will have access to better health facilities.

Also on: HealthNewsNG

About the writer
Jennifer Ehidiamen is a 2013 New Media Fellow for International Reporting Project She reports on Global Health and Development in Nigeria.

Friday, September 20, 2013

#IRP13: Nigerian Woman Living With HIV Recounts Her Experience Giving Birth to HIV-negative Baby

About two years ago, Rosemary, 30, went to the clinic for antenatal
check-up. After series of test, she was told that she was HIV
positive. The nurses counselled her. She says the counselling provided
at the clinic boosted her morale. She said to herself then that God
knows everything that happen to mankind and knows how to help her.

Rosemary is the 3rd wife of her husband. In her culture, men are
permitted to marry more than one wife.

Before she got pregnant, Rosemary says she heard rumors that the other
women (wives of her husband) were HIV positive. She confronted her
husband about it but he dismissed the news and told her he didn't know
anything about their status.

When she got the news of her HIV status, she went back home to tell
her husband, but he dismissed her report, nonchalantly.

"I had to encourage her that being positive is not the end of life,"
says the Nurse at the Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) centre at the
clinic where Rosemary access treatment. "I also encouraged her that if
she takes care of herself and her pregnancy, the child will be free
from the disease." The nurse shared different stories of positive
women who successfully gave birth to HIV negative babies as well as
those who failed to adhere to treatment and thus delivered HIV
positive babies. The stories encouraged Rosemary.

Women, especially pregnant women and nursing mothers, who have tested
HIV positive in Nasarawa state are encouraged to access free medical
treatment and drugs. The test and antiretroviral drugs are free, says
the head nurse, Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT)
treatment centre, in one of the secondary health clinics in the state.

Although new HIV infection is said to be on the decline globally,
Nigeria still ranks high with a population of over 3million people
living with HIV in the country. There is still work to be done. One of
which is mobilizing pregnant women and their spouses at the rural
areas to adhere to their treatment, to ensure their well-being and
that of their children.

"Rosemary comes for her drugs regularly," says the ART Nurse. "Even
today she came for her treatment thinking it was her appointment," she
said. But all efforts to get her husband to come for HIV test have not
been successful.

Rosemary's child is one year and five months and is still HIV negative.

"After one year and six months we do the last test," says the ART
nurse. At that point, if the baby remains negative, the PMTCT service
is regarded as successful.

With the current PMTCT guideline of "test and treat" women whose test
result reveals HIV positive are placed on ARVs treatment immediately.

"It is because the viral load may be high at that time. The higher the
viral load, the higher the chances of the virus infecting the child,"
says the nurse.

To prevent mother to child transmission of HIV, treatment intervention
is provided during pregnancy, at labour and delivery and during

HIV status of partner unknown

Although Rosemary considers herself fortunate to have successfully
adhered to the process of PMTCT treatment, she is still perturbed by
her husband's refusal to go for HIV test. She classifies this as a

She says they are told at the clinic that if a woman is HIV positive
and the man's status is not known and they are both sexually active,
then the man is likely to be infected. And if he is already infected,
he has the chances of increasing her viral load even though she is
already accessing her ARVs.

To prevent herself from being at risk of increased viral load,
Rosemary says she sometimes refuse him sex but she is forced to
succumb to him, as part of her duty as a wife. She says she has no
option than to keep living with it.

The health clinic is careful not to interfere with family issues.

"We have invited him severally to come for test but he refused," says
the nurse. They have continued to encourage Rosemary to access her
treatment. "But if he refused to allow [her] access, we will take
legal backing. Everyone has a right to treatment as well as right to
life," she says.

HIV awareness is increasing in Nasarawa state, even though the state
still account for one of the highest prevalence rate of 7.5% in the
country. People access treatment irrespective of their religious
background, says the nurse.

"What we normally tell them is that when you are HIV positive, you
know your status, live positively and take care of your life. If you
are HIV negative, it does not mean you cannot be positive tomorrow.
Try to avoid those things that can make you infected."

No stigma and shame

Rosemary says she does not pay attention to any form of stigma. When
she comes for her ARVs at the clinic, she does not mind the stares she
gets from those around. She says all she knows is that she is there to
take care of herself and her family. Accessing treatment is doing
something that will make her life better.

Some people who are HIV positive do not adhere to treatment because of
shame and stigma. Rosemary says there is need for everyone who is HIV
positive to take care of themselves. She has taken care of herself and
her baby is HIV negative, she says.

She looks forward to having more children. But not immediately, she
adds,with smiles.

The reporter:
Jennifer Ehidiamen is a 2013 IRP New Media Fellow for International
Reporting Project (IRP). She is reporting on issues of global health
and development in Nigeria.

Also published on: --

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Increasing your communication capacity through effective feedback

I just had a terrific time making a presentation to my colleagues and officials in Nasarawa state (LGA). The focus was on "FEEDBACK- Increasing your communication capacity through effective feedback."

In every communication process, feedback is important- the circle can't be complete without it. But, we often ignore the vital role this element plays.

The goal of the session was to:
1. Explain communication process
2. Explore the role of feedback in communication process
3. Empower audience with skills to enable them frame effective feedback (audience participation session)
4. Give tips on "Giving" and "Receiving" feedback

From a self-evaluative point of view and judging from the feedback I got from the audience, I'll say it was indeed an interesting & successful session ;-)

I'm thankful for the opportunity to share and learn. I thank Michael for anchoring the practical session ;-) and @JohnEdide for providing the paper for visual presentation.

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of speaking on "Relationship: Making it work." The audience were secondary school students, undergraduates and graduates. Actually I saw a few kids in the crowd too- so I was mindful of some content.

The months I have spent teaching some 350 teenagers here (as a volunteer teacher) has really boosted my skills - research, teaching, presentation, listening and audience management. So thankful for more opportunities!