Since January 2006, Orphans Against AIDS has partnered with Friends of Young People (FYP) to provide children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS throughout Kenya with an education. Friends of Young People is a community-based NGO incorporated in Nairobi, Kenya, with additional operations in Kisumu (Lake Victoria region) and Kitale (Rift Valley region). FYP was founded in 2000 by Beatrice Mwaniga, a trained counselor and former employee of Barclays Bank in Nairobi. Ms. Mwaniga established Friends of Young People in response to the AIDS-related deaths of many of her friends as a way to ensure the future success of their children; the organization quickly outgrew her direct personal contacts. She has enlisted an impressive volunteer corps of community leaders in building Friends of Young People’s capacity to identify children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, holistically assess their individual needs, and meet those needs through a combination of family counseling, community sensitivity training, and educational funding. Prior to OAA’s involvement, Friends of Young People had received funding and recognition from Barclays Bank PLC, Barclays Bank of Kenya LTD, Kenya’s National AIDS Council, and individual donors.
History and Background
After spending time traveling through Kenya with FYP staff, meeting the orphans that the organization was presently supporting, and talking to community leaders about FYP's impact and reputation, OAA decided to partner with Friends of Young People. The partnership guarantees OAA’s sponsorship of 15 students identified by Friends of Young People for the duration of their primary and secondary education, subject to thorough annual reviews of Friends of Young People’s activities and records.
OAA’s contributions--both financial and strategic--have had a significant impact on Friends of Young People’s capacity to meet its current commitments and expand its services. OAA continues to work with Friends of Young People, and specifically with Ms. Mwaniga, to facilitate connections with other potential donors and enhance the organization’s effectiveness. In keeping with this goal, OAA works to ensure that FYP is meeting its aspirations and mission; OAA also tracks the academic progress of its 15 scholarship recipients in an effort to ensure that our financial resources are being utilized to best serve the students we support.
The 15 Kenyan students that OAA sponsors range in age, with the youngest in primary school and the eldest in secondary school. All of these youngsters have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS. As a result, these students confront mental and emotional hardship, augmented familial responsibilities, and financial difficulties that make obtaining a primary or secondary education nearly impossible without the help of OAA. Education is crucial to ensuring that these children do not fall victim to the vicious cycle of HIV/AIDS.
Although the OAA Kenya students' identities are kept confidential to safeguard their privacy, each child shares a story that is all too familiar. With the absence of either one or both parents, the child--often along with multiple siblings and cousins--lives with extended family, often being cared for by a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. As resources are scarce, the guardian struggles to provide basic life-sustaining necessities, such as food and shelter, for the multiple children that must be cared for. In order to make ends meet, the child stops attending school (or does not attend in the first place) so that she or he may work during the day and earn money for the family. Consequently, by not receiving a decent education, the youth's future opportunity set is drastically reduced.
OAA's mission--providing enough funding for these children to attend school--is to promote an alternative to this reality. Fifteen children in Kenya is a start, but it is only the beginning. With the assistance of friends and donors, OAA will continue to aid as many Kenyan children as we can, until one day the help is no longer necessary.
 In 2003, Barclays recognized Ms Mwaniga as the Best Overseas Individual Winner of the Community Chairman’s awards