THE BIRTH OF FRIENDS WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION
In 2002, after attending a seminar on trauma and HIV/AIDS in Bujumbura, Burundi, a group of women came together to form the Friends Women’s Association, FWA. The purpose was to address the unique needs of women in the conflict and post-conflict environment. These women wanted to work together to improve each other’s lives and, in particular, address the problems of poverty, HIV/AIDS, sexual violence, and post-conflict trauma in their communities.
In this way, FWA is working towards the following goals:
• Reduce transmission of HIV/AIDS through sensitization and education workshops
• Improve the lives of those already suffering from the effects of HIV/AIDS through the prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of opportunistic infections, and give psychosocial and nutritional care to HIV positive people
• Support women’s empowerment and peace consolidation through other activities
FWA Mission: To provide a comprehensive health care to women and their families, to promote women’s leadership and autonomy and to strengthen peace and solidarity in Kamenge, a slum in Bujumbura and in other communities of Burundi.
Starting by fighting against HIV/AIDS, FWA realized that she could not respond to her mission without a clinic. That is why we have nowadays a clinic called “NTASEKA” where we have different services: medical consultation, nurse consultation, a laboratory room and a counseling room. As Burundi has one of the highest rate of birth in the world, since May 2014, we have started a new program called “Improving Women Reproductive Health” (IWRH). The purpose is to sensitize people that birth control is for both the man and the woman. Through our beneficiaries, we were also able to realize that some women got HIV/AIDS through sexual violence. That is why we have now a program called “Rape Survivors Support” (RSS). The aim is to reintegrate rape survivors both psychologically and economically. As this second program refers to gender-based violence case management, we are now mobilizing communities to make an Action on Gender-Based Violence (AGBV) starting in the church. This is our third program. We have a fourth program called “Link Up” whose main objective is to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people. Finally, we have a fifth one which is called “Caring for HIV Positive People” (CHIVPP). The purpose is to care for HIV positive people holistically. It has different dimensions: medical care, psycho- social and economic care. In sum, we have five current programs.