“Locally and globally, there are certain things that are universal,” said Tina Rodin, staff member at Philadelphia FIGHT, a comprehensive HIV/AIDS organization in Philadelphia. “People are stigmatized, isolated, and rejected from their families and communities because of HIV status everywhere in the world.” In 2013, Philadelphia FIGHT board member Bishop Ernest McNear was doing work in Ghana through his church and had started integrating HIV/AIDS education. Soon after, Philadelphia FIGHT developed an official partnership with the Ghana AIDS Commission in an area where 250,000 people are living with HIV.
The work in Ghana focuses on community education, particularly through faith communities. “We partnered with the Ghana AIDS Commission to do seminars in prayer camps,” Rodin said. The seminars bring hospital workers and faith leaders into the same space with the goal of reducing stigma around HIV status and offering testing and treatments.
Many Philadelphia FIGHT staff members were inspired by the work in Ghana. “The way we could best support them was through financial contributions, so we made it a giving option for FIGHT staff through payroll deductions,” Rodin said. Last year, the funds enabled the Ghana AIDS Commission to increase the number of communities served, employ 25 peer educators, and administer HIV testing to more than 12,000 people.
Philadelphia FIGHT decided to establish the donor-advised End AIDS in Ghana Fund at Bread & Roses to raise more funds for the Ghana AIDS Commission. “We want to remind people that this is a global crisis that’s not isolated,” Rodin said. “We’re making a connection between something that feels meaningful here and there, and we’re providing meaningful support.”