MADISON, Wis. — The Busia Compassionate Centre in Busia, Kenya, with funding from World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), is helping combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic by supporting orphans who have lost their parents to the disease or who are infected themselves. The observance of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 emphasizes the importance of universal access to treatment and human rights, something that many of Kenya's savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs), or credit unions, have been working to further for several years.
"As trusted member-owned and operated financial cooperatives, SACCOs are instrumental in improving lives throughout the communities they serve," said Pete Crear, president and CEO of WOCCU, which manages development programs that support SACCOs in Kenya and other African nations. "SACCOs educate and support their membership in an attempt to diminish the devastation of this terrible disease."
The 2010 World AIDS day theme — Universal Access and Human Rights — speaks directly to the efforts made by many of Kenya's SACCOs in helping combat the spread of the deadly disease. The theme also describes the work performed by Busia Compassionate Centre in helping children who themselves have been orphaned due to parents who died from AIDS.
WOCCU began working with Busia Compassionate Centre as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program in Kenya aimed at mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on economic growth through credit union modernization. During the program, which ran from 2006 to 2010, many of the involved credit unions played active roles in providing HIV/AIDS prevention education to members and providing food produced by farmers who received credit union loans to orphanages that help AIDS-affected children. Program staff taught volunteers to plant food crops on the orphanage grounds, introduced irrigation, made renovations and worked with program credit unions to finance additional food and scholarships for older orphans to attend secondary school. WOCCU has since focused on providing the orphanage continued financial support through its affiliation with the worldwide credit union movement.
Donations made to the Busia Compassionate Centre through the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions directly fund improvements to the home, making it a healthier place for the children to live. Donations also ensure that children living at the orphanage receive basic nutrition and provide scholarships for the children to go to school.
"Educating members is one of the most important roles in which financial cooperatives serve the world over. Providing education and care to AIDS victims in Kenya is paramount to the commitment SACCOs have made to their members," Crear said.
Find out more about the Busia Compassionate Centre and make a contribution in observance of World AIDS Day at www.busiaorphanage.org.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.