Employment Opportunities for People living with HIV/AIDS in Nasarawa State
As a part of PfD’s work with the Family Health Care Initiative (FAHCI) in Nasarawa State, Nigeria in 2004-2005, it became evident that almost 100 individuals supported by FAHCI were struggling with the social impacts of their HIV/AIDS-positive status: manual labor could severely jeopardize their health, but they lacked the skills to support themselves in jobs that didn’t require it. In 2006, with support from the Embassy of the Netherlands, PfD launched a vocational skills training program for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
The goal of the project was to empower PLWHA with income generating skills to make them economically self-reliant, as well as to increase their self-esteem. The main mechanisms for creating this change were:
- the establishment of a vocational skills training center for PLWHA;
- training PLWHA on fashion design and interior decorating (the skills most requested in consultation);
- the creation of a sustainable source of credit to support PLWHA in their business endeavors.
The project was an overwhelming success, creating the following outcomes:
- Local expertise in design: Two PLWHA were sent for training of trainers’ course on fashion designing/interior decorations at Mashiah Foundation in Jos. They have been employed to manage the skills acquisition center and have provided same training to 46 PLWHA (far more than the 15 that were proposed).
- Stronger local microfinance institutions: PfD helped FAHCI learn to manage a revolving loan fund to provide credit to 15 PLWHA targeted in the project proposal. Technical assistance was provided in the areas of pre-loan training to intended loan beneficiaries and management of the micro credit program (including loan recovery; supervision of loan officers; credit program reporting; delinquency; and default management).
- Sustainable micro-credit: FAHCI conducted pre-loan training to 46 PLWHA during the project period and provided loans to establish various business ventures in their communities. This component of program has a loan portfolio of 150,000 Niara provided loans to 46 PLWHA, each receiving an average of 5,000 Naira.
- Sustainable skills training opportunities: The established skills acquisition training center now provides skills training not only to PLWHA, but also to other vulnerable community members. Beyond fashion designing and interior decorations, trainings are also provided in other vocations like making of handicrafts (beads, mats, etc.); dying of local fabrics; etc. This has not only helped sustain the skills acquisition center, but also increased income generating skills for community members especially women and youth. FAHCI has also used the opportunity of these trainings to deliver health messages particularly those related to HIV/AIDS to trainees.