Carine Siltz Kapinga, a former Miss Congo, DRC-USA 2003, and founder of the African Advocates Against AIDS Inc, use her organization to sensitize, educate and orientate the community about the risk in the disease HIV/AIDS, raising awareness and helping them access, adequate testing, care and treatment services.
The journey started after she lost her parents to HIV/AIDS and joined a program supported by World Health Organisation through the Amo Congo in Bandal/Kinshasa/DRC. The program was aimed to train AIDS Orphans about HIV/AIDS and how they can educate and sensitize others around the world.
Carine Siltz Kapinga shares her experience with ADEWALE ADENRELE on the struggle many HIV orphans go through, the stigma, and the need to educate our community about the risk and protective factors of this decease
The mother of 3 who bagged an associate degree in Journalism is currently running a street outreach initiatives effort for HIV AIDS awareness and covid-19 prevention
Below are excerpts:
You are the Founder of African-Advocates Against Aids What are the aims and objectives of this organization?
The African Advocates Against AIDS Inc., aim and objectives is to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS virus with African immigrants and the African American community in the United States of America through education and raising the awareness of this disease and helping them access, adequate testing, care and treatment services through referral to our partners and supporters among whom are: The African Immigrant commission of NY and CT, NYC Health and Hospitals/ Test and Trace outreach corp, The NYC Emergency Management, the Bridge Builder’s Community Partnership, the Alliance of Positive Change, the Boots on the Ground Street Outreach Ministry, The Greater Highway Deliverance Temple, the Bethel’s Emanuel Temple ( BET), St Mark Catholic Church, Jabba African braiding salon, the Ryan and Nina health center, the Institute of family health, African Paradise and Aisha braiding salon. We are grateful for their unflinching support. Together we are stronger!
What have been the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of leadership for you?
The most challenging moment for me was to initiate our current and ongoing street outreach initiative efforts for HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 prevention by being in the shelter due to family matters and also during a global pandemic with the added challenges of maintaining one’s confidence while building a team and experiencing setbacks like the Covid-19 Pandemic. I’ve learned that during times of crisis, one can produce much fruit by leading one’s self to build. It is important for a leader to be seen involved for your team’s success depends on it. Leadership cannot be a Lone Ranger endeavor.
The most rewarding moment for us is to see how well we all came together to serve during the Covid-19 crisis, thus our Mantra. ‘We’re Stronger Together” During this Covid crisis, we were found on the frontlines, and under an unprecedented circumstance, we found the strength in working together to do what it takes to fight back and expand lifesaving resources to those communities in need, this was done through collaboration, and working with our partners, including community’s faith organizations(CFOs). Community-based organizations and (CBOs) local participating, local businesses such as pharmacies, barbershops, African hair braiding salons, and volunteers that all came together to support our initiative.
How would you describe the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and what have been the challenges and the success stories to your organization?
As an organization, we have been operating under unprecedented circumstances as I was in the NYC Shelter system where women are experiencing homelessness at even higher risk than men and contracting the HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 Virus. In that regards we initiated our street outreach initiative efforts for HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 prevention where we distributed on a weekly based to the community in need: Masks, hand sanitizers, face shields, and resources provided access to vaccination, testing, care, and treatment services provided through our referrals and partners.
If we can come together and utilized resources to create adequate infrastructure to carry out those interventions that have been successful here in America, we can address the HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 crisis in Africa and Globally.
When are you taking the outreach to the African continent for street outreach and awareness?
We are hoping to work with African countries very soon to raise the awareness of this virus, the risk, and protective factors, so we can prevent the spread and expand lifesaving tools information, and resources to those African countries that have been severely impacted by HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 virus.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges leaders to play a vital role in their community combating the pandemic by sensitization and outreach; would you tell us what your organization has done in this regard?
Our organization has played a vital role in communities severely impacted by sensitization and outreach.
Women are supposed to be celebrated every day for their selfless contribution to the community but there is a low level of participation of women in politics, do you wish to contest in the future?
We see low levels of participation of women in politics over the years but the tide appears to have turned judging from the role of women now in the workforce and politics. I support these women political leader and their services to those populations in need and may consider running with God’s willingness to improve the lives of those affected or infected by HIV/AIDS and build better infrastructure to address the current crisis.
African ethnic groups and tribes have customs and traditions that are unique to their culture. What do you like about African Culture?
Of all the countries in the world, I find that African culture stands out; it is rich and very diverse as it is considered the motherland with strong characteristics in Arts, Languages, Traditions, and Culture.
African Development Magazine would like to partner African-Advocates Against-Aids for Sensitizing, educating, and orientating the Africans through our platform, would you support this development?
Yes. AAAA would support this development and welcome your organization as one of our partners.
Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us the most amazing memory?
The most amazing memory is Our World HIV/AIDS Day/Outreach Initiative where all of our participating CFOs and CBOs came together to serve the community
What advice would you give the younger ones?
We cannot disregard the needs of those we seek to serve, know that there are going to be challenged in life and though there may be great, there are not impossible. Don’t look for excuses or make excuses for failure to grow. “Take the bull by the horn, for you are the Bull” There are numerous entrepreneurship and opportunities to serve your community. We believe this can be accomplished through: mentorship, training, education, information sharing, and available resources, however, sometimes, like a needle in a haystack” one must search and seek it out. If we can invest in our youth, truly we believe they are the future.
Thank you for sharing with us.
You are welcome.