Pamoja is an HIV prevention and support programme for Africans, by Africans, living in Aotearoa New Zealand. The programme aims to encourage safer sex, regular testing for HIV and provide support for people who are living with HIV. It does this by empowering the community in a culturally appropriate way through events, workshops and community ambassadors.
Pamoja carries on the work of Love Cover Protect – a programme set up in 2011 to support the African community in New Zealand around HIV and AIDS. It forms an important part of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s (NZAF) strategy to end new transmissions of HIV by 2025.
The Pamoja Team
Judith Mukakayange, Community Engagement Coordinator African
It’s an honour for me to work on the Pamoja team alongside others who are as passionate and committed as I am to a community based approach to HIV prevention. By talking to people about HIV, I hope I can change the way they think about it and reduce stigma. Conversations and relationships are so important. Like they say – hearts change minds.
I have been living with HIV most of my adult life, so understand what it is like to deal with the challenges of HIV. As an educator, stigma is one of the greatest barriers I face, as many people do not want to even talk about HIV. Or, they have so much fear of being diagnosed positive, that they avoid getting tested for HIV. A big part of my role is providing people with information about HIV so they can make informed choices about their health.
Seb Stewart, Programme Manager Community Engagement
My role is to make sure that everyone in our community feels engaged around the vision of ending new transmissions of HIV in Aotearoa by 2025. I feel incredibly privileged to play my part in achieving this goal.
As a person who is living with HIV, I have first hand understanding of stigma and the challenges it brings. What I love about Pamoja is its message of standing together against stigma and discrimination. It is also about offering all of the tools that are available to our community to end HIV. That means protection, testing and treatment.
I have an extensive background in leading successful community and youth based projects to achieve social change. In my role as programme manager I support the team to deliver their important message to the African community across Aotearoa.
Yehuala Aboye, Community Engagement Coordinator African
During the late 1990s, my passion for working in HIV prevention was ignited when many people lost their lives due to HIV/AIDS. Soon, I started working for people living with HIV and AIDS orphan children in Ethiopia. Curbing the spread of HIV has been an exciting job.
Again, I feel privileged working for Pamoja. My community engagement role enables me to reach many NZ-Africans with messages about ending HIV, no matter where they are from, or what their beliefs may be. Everyone has a right to access protection, testing and treatment for HIV. Pamoja is so important to keep our family safe and end new HIV infections. People can approach us to do workshops, events or just get in touch if they have a question.
Gertrude (Trudie) Agbozo, Health Services Manager (Wellington & Christchurch)
I first became interested in public health because of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. As an undergraduate student, I conducted research on ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Tanzania. The new Pamoja programme is a great initiative to provide education and resources to the African community in New Zealand. I am happy to be a member of the team, supporting its delivery in Wellington and the South Island.
Over the course of my career, I have had leadership roles in both private and non-profit healthcare organisations. Prior to relocating to New Zealand from the States, I was working on public health capacity building projects in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda. I have come full circle, and am excited to be working towards Ending HIV in New Zealand.