July 2018


Lubuto at International AIDS Conference

Lubuto’s involvement with the worldwide community fighting HIV/AIDS and its consequences, especially for Africa’s orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC), predates the Lubuto organization itself and remains a key focus of our work. In the early years this primarily entailed participating in OVC forums in Washington, DC and Zambia, but recent years have afforded opportunities for Lubuto staff to participate in the biennial International AIDS Conferences: Jane Meyers volunteering at the 2012 IAC in Washington, DC; Kasonde Mukonde representing Lubuto at the 2016 IAC in Durban, South Africa (where our DREAMS Innovation Grant award was announced); and, this year, Lubuto’s Elizabeth Giles and Hadassah Kasukumya volunteering and presenting a poster highlighting some of the successes of our DREAMS project at the 2018 IAC in Amsterdam.

This involvement has always carried the message that targeted library programs and the public library platform have a very important role to play – both in providing psychosocial support and non-formal education to OVC and their caregivers, and in delivering information and effective programs to help stop the spread of HIV. The IAC is the largest conference on any global health or development issue, and Elizabeth’s and Hadassah’s poster, “What role do public libraries play in the fight against HIV/AIDS? Lessons from Lubuto Library Partners in Lusaka, Zambia,” shows how our innovative role-model mentoring and other unique features of the library platform “puts public libraries on the frontline against HIV/AIDS.”

Lubuto’s approach was featured in DREAMS’ announcement of its Innovation Challenge winners: “Public libraries are a unique gateway for linking girls at risk of HIV infection to information and services that empower them to develop life skills, prevent HIV, and stay in school. One Challenge winner in Zambia will establish new mentoring programs in public libraries to tackle discriminatory gender norms, provide health education, and foster girls’ resilience and determination to succeed.” The poster highlights three successful outcomes to our hypothesis:

  • Libraries are safe, trusted sites for HIV testing and counseling: By partnering with health service providers to offer testing at public libraries, non-traditional yet inclusive, non-stigmatizing environments, Lubuto has held 6 HTC sessions, facilitated by clinical partners, at which 648 youth have been tested, maintaining a constant 100% referral completion rate.

  • Female leaders make powerful role models: To support girls in developing educational goals for their futures, Lubuto has taken 436 girls on horizon-broadening field trips to meet female leaders at institutions such as Parliament, universities, and technology companies. These trips are unique among HIV prevention programs in Zambia, and significantly drive program enrollment. 

  • By addressing drivers of transactional sex, we boost program enrollment: Many girls in the program experience poverty-driven pressure towards transactional sex. Girls reported sleeping with older men in order to earn sums of about US $5/monthly, which many said they used to purchase basic Innovative Role-Model Mentoring Puts Public Libraries on the Frontline Against HIV/AIDS toiletries. When Lubuto and corporate partners stepped in to provide a graduation package of toiletries intended to reduce this pressure, it contributed to an average enrollment increase of 45% at 2 program sites between Cohorts 1 and 2. 
The 2-year DREAMS Innovation Challenge program ends in September, but an important feature of our library-based model is that all of our interventions and programs were designed for sustainability and replicability in other libraries. Many readers will already be aware that our scholarship program continues to be sustained by our efforts (and the generosity of those supporting it). Likewise, our mentoring and information programs will all continue, as our commitment to supporting the health, education and welfare of Zambia’s youth continues.


Continuing the DREAMS Scholarships

Throughout July, we have continued our push to raise funds for the 2018-2019 scholarships for girls. Thanks to the wonderful generosity of so many of our friends, we have raised over $5,000—which covers the education of 23 girls—but we still have a lot of work ahead of us! As the deadline for paying school fees in Zambia approaches, there are still 30 scholarships in need of funding. Lubuto has committed to support all 53 young women through to graduation, so we urgently need to finish what we have started.

How can you help?