In the summer of 2013, Gilbert Bongmba and Billy Scott met at a summer program for people interested in medicine. Their mutual interest in medicine went deeper, resulting in an idea that would form Serving People with HIV/AIDS (SPWHA), an organization dedicated to serving children in Zambia and Cameroon battling HIV/AIDS.
Bongmba and Scott started by creating a Facebook page titled “Africans Against HIV/AIDS.” It was a start, but they wanted to do more. They wanted their aid to reach children in two main ways: health care and education. The main goal of SPWHA is to increase access to life-saving medication for children living with HIV and AIDS in Zambia and Cameroon. According to UNICEF, about 600,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Cameroon and an estimated 1.2 million people with HIV and AIDS in Zambia. In most western countries, people who have access to affordable health care and antiretroviral treatment can live for many years past a diagnosis. Recent research literature has also suggested that people living with HIV have just about the same life expectancy as their counterparts, provided they have access to good healthcare coverage, medications and care. Bongmba said he wants children living with HIV and AIDS to exist in a reality where a diagnosis doesn’t automatically become a death sentence. He envisions a society in which children living with HIV have a strong support system and are hopeful about the future.
Along with health care, Bongmba and Scott want to help children receive education. In the past two years, SPWHA has been working in partnership with the Terra Nova Children’s Home(formerly known as Kazembe Orphanage) in Zambia and has supported her financially and also through the donation of books. The Terra Nova Children’s Hom’s mission is to improve the lives of children in need in Zambia by providing education, training and leadership. The orphanage offers instruction in values, morals and practical solutions, that will enhance the quality of these children’s lives and give them the tools they need to succeed. SPWHA’s has also been working with the Terra Nova Children’s Home to ensure that any child living with HIV gets the financial support they need for school, nutrition and medications.
SPWHA is also excited to announce it’s new partnership with the Family Outreach Ministry Cameroon (FOMCAM) in Cameroon. “FOMCAM is a community based non-governmental, not-for-profit, non-political, philanthropic organisation located in Bamenda, Cameroon that works to rescue orphans, vulnerable children, women and the elderly, and nurturing them with quality holistic care and sharing with them the transforming power of Jesus Christ so that they are enabled to instill hope in others. Through its mission, FOMCAM addresses issues like inadequate health care facilities, low quality education, inadequate educational facilities etc.”
Bongmba said he wanted to find a way to make a difference for some time. He knew he couldn’t do it alone, though. He needed a team, and with Scott’s help that’s what he found. Bongmba is now the CEO/President of SPWHA with Scott as the Vice President. They are assisted by Financial Director Eric Rains.