Andy and Gay Wilkinson first traveled to Botswana, Africa in 1995. They were drawn to the beauty of the Tswana people and their culture, but very burdened by the fact that Africa has most of the world’s HIV/AIDS cases. The Wilkinsons saw up close the precious lives ravaged by this incurable disease.
Determined to help, Andy and Gay sold their home in the United States, said good-bye to family and friends and moved to South Africa. Their mission was to bring hope and a new way forward by telling people about Jesus and teaching them how to stop the disease’s deadly progression.
HIV/AIDS Facts and the Great Need to Help
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense against infections and illnesses. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS, making a person vulnerable to serious infections and cancers. HIV is primarily transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, sharing of needles or syringes, or mother-to-child transmission during childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy. There is no cure for HIV, but antiretroviral therapy can help people living with HIV to live longer, healthier lives.
About 67 percent of all people living with HIV worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa, making it the region most affected by HIV.
• In 2021, there were 20.6 million people with HIV (53%) in eastern and southern Africa, 5 million (13%) in western and central Africa.
• HIV is the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Source: World Health Organization.
• As of 2020, an estimated 15.2 million children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses. Source: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
• HIV is accompanied by a twin epidemic of tuberculosis which seriously affects the HIV-negative population. Source: African Mission Healthcare
• In 2020, 59 percent of all adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa were women. Contributing factors include the vulnerability of the female genital tract to infection, as well as social and economic factors such as gender inequality, poverty, and lack of access to education and healthcare. Source: UNAIDS.
• Young people aged 15-24 years have a low level of knowledge about HIV prevention methods. Only 45 percent of young women and 35 percent of young men in this age group understand how to prevent/transmit HIV. Source: 2020 UNAIDS.
Working Towards the First Generation Free of HIV/AIDS
Cultural mores and customs such as polygamy, sexual promiscuity and alcoholism significantly contribute to the spread of HIV. This is why education is key.
Andy started teaching local youth True Love Waits and about the benefits of sexual abstinence before marriage including how it prevents the transmission of disease. He incorporated into his teaching One Love, a Biblically based curriculum from Samaritan’s Purse designed to teach how to form strong marriages and the benefits of fidelity to one spouse.
The response was miraculous. Young people now understood what caused the HIV/AIDS devastation in their families. Three True Love Waits teaching teams were formed and committed to teaching AIDS awareness to youth via rallies in schools, churches and community gatherings.
Young people from our initial rallies are now leaders. With a focus on creating a better world for their children, these champions conduct rallies in their community and travel on HIHIA-provided motorbikes to spread the HIHIA True Love Waits/One Love movement throughout the region and into more countries.
REGIONS’/COUNTRIES: Amboseli, Loita, Narok, Rift Valley, Mara, Trans Mara and South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania.
Maasai warriors today are embracing safer lifestyle behaviors and recognizing they too can raise happy, healthy families and eradicate the disease.
Opening the Mmametlhake Family Care Center
Andy implemented a home-based care program to help meet the needs of those already suffering from the disastrous disease. Care workers, trained by the South African government, assisted HIV/AIDS patients and provided counseling on testing and disclosure of HIV/AIDS status. This program led to the opening of the Mmametlhake Family Care Center (MFCC) in Mpumalanga Province, SA in 2004.
After two years, Andy and Gay returned to the USA to form a 501c3, The Foundation for the Relief of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Its primary purpose was to financially support the newly established MFCC which had been granted South African non-government status. The work spread into other African countries, and the foundation began doing business as Hand In Hand In Africa (HIHIA) in 2006.
Creating Hand In Hand In Africa
- Through its HIV/AIDS prevention education, HIHIA is introducing the people of sub-Sahara Africa to Jesus and teaching how He is their true source of hope.
- FOR 20 YEARS GOD HAS FAITHFULLY RAISED UP INDIGENOUS LEADERS EAGER TO BE TRAINED TO TEACH GOD’S PLAN FOR SEXUAL RELATIONS AND MARRIAGE.
- Tribal-language speaking trainers are teaching the basics of HIV/AIDS, and the Biblical principles to help them overcome cultural mores and sexual promiscuity, and avoid HIV.
- Trainers are strategically positioned to spread the message in an ever-widening circle in Kenya and Tanzania. Only 10% of the trainers and leaders receive a small stipend, approximately $150 per month.
- Weekly events held in churches, primary and secondary schools, and community gatherings are reaching all ages with the Biblical truths. HIHIA funds these events by supplying bottled water or sodas and covering minor expenses such as printing and national registration fees.
- Those living in the most remote areas of Kenya and Tanzania are hungry for our message of hope. But those locations are difficult to reach so we provide motorbikes and fuel for transportation.
- We’re grateful for how God has raised up dedicated and highly qualified board members who voluntarily perform the organization’s administrative functions, management, and oversight. Overhead expenses are limited to audit fees, software, publications and communications. That means 90-95 percent of donations go directly to our HIV/AIDS education programs in Africa.
Our mission is to eradicate HIV/AIDS through education and community support projects. We accomplish this mission by teaching culture, heart, and life-style changing curriculum to local leaders from cities and villages throughout the African countries of Kenya and South Africa.
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