Esmael Omar Njuguna: When I Imagine the Future

"When I imagine the future I see a world where young people take up full responsibility and control of their lives with total reduction of sexual transmission of HIV. I see a world where there would be more increased response towards transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs. I see a world where there would be total elimination of HIV infections among children and total reduction of maternal deaths. A world where people living with HIV are reached with lifesaving antiretroviral treatment. I see a world where tuberculosis deaths among people living with HIV are significantly prevented. A world that commits itself to both global and local HIV/AIDS response in a bid to close the global AIDS resource gap. A world that totally eliminates gender inequalities and gender-based abuse and violence and increase the capacity of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV. I see a world that totally eliminates HIV-related stigma, discrimination, punitive laws and practices. A world that eliminates HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence. When I imagine the future I see a HIV-Free world."

About me

I am passionate about problem solving, people, places and ideas. I have a strong conviction to working on sexuality, human rights and HIV/AIDS education and advocacy. My family and community have been deeply affected by HIV/AIDS, hence my vision of change is therefore at once universal and deeply personal. My commitment is rooted in conviction that I am on this Earth to serve. I have embraced a systemic thinking and strive to replace relationships based on dominance and competition with relationships based on reciprocity, collaboration, and service to others, encouraging recognition of the essential nobility of others. Above all, I am willing to take risks and to act in support of my vision.

As human rights are universal, they apply to all people. Every human being is entitled to the highest attainable standard of health, privacy, liberty and security, freedom of expression and assembly, gender equality, freedom from violence and arbitrary arrest, free choice of employment and just and favourable conditions of work, non-discrimination, and the prohibition of forced labour, child labour and trafficking.

Having that in mind, Programmatic experience, have demonstrated the feasibility of reducing HIV transmission associated with sex work. However, few national policies and programmes adequately address the HIV-related needs of sex workers and their clients, or their potential to contribute to national responses to HIV. My passion therefore is deeply rooted in championing for comprehensive, accessible, acceptable, and sustainable, high-quality, user-friendly HIV prevention, treatment, care and support among young female sex workers, scaled up and adapted to different local contexts and individual needs.

Where I Have Been

In 2007 I founded AFYAFRIKA, a small non-profit, youth-led and youth serving organization that aims to improve health and self-sufficiency among underserved youth through health promotion, education, training, advocacy and research.

Through dynamic programming, young people overcome barriers, enabling them to have healthy and self-sufficient lives. Since 2010 to2013, AFYAFRIKA has won MTV “Staying Alive” awards in recognition of its role in finding creative approaches to fighting HIV and AIDS in the different communities it works in. With the support of that three-year grant from MTV, I have been managing a project focused on ensuring effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for sex workers, as well as their meaningful and active involvement in these efforts.

Addressing Social determinants of Health through food security and Nutrition is vital in HIV/AIDS Prevention. Currently, I am focusing on innovative agri-business solutions, an economic empowerment venture that addresses poverty alleviation among young women and girls hence, creating an enabling environment for them to celebrate their lives and live dignified lives. AFYAFRIKA is transforming local gardens and backyards into agricultural hubs where girls and women gain desired business acumen and financial security. The vision of my new project is to have self-sustained families.

Moreover, I have co-organized workshops on abortion, rape, and teen pregnancy, and recently began running outreach programs for people living with disabilities, and for widows who are sexually exploited as a result of Kenya’s patriarchal culture. In July 2010, I was a Sexuality Leadership Development Fellow at the Action Health Inc. training facility in Lagos, Nigeria. This opportunity has allowed me to learn and share experiences regarding effective strategies for policies and programs aimed at reducing sexual violence against girls and women, and to explore contemporary research and practice.

I had the opportunity to be selected and join 13 other young remarkable leaders from all over the world as a 2011-2012 Sauve Scholar by the Sauvé Scholars Program which was established by the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation to equip, empower and enable emerging leaders to address critical global challenges in their respective communities and countries. The Program exists for young leaders from across the globe who wants to change the world. For the nine months I spent in Montreal, Canada I worked tirelessly to enhance the capacity of AFYAFRIKA.

I lead processes on the development of a Strategic Plan, a Financial Regulations Manual, a Human Resources Policy and Procedures Manual and refined organizational Constitution. The main objective of this capacity building process was to achieve sustainability and to more effectively meet my organization’s mission.

The Sauvé experience was a period of personal and professional growth, and founded on: Intense exchange of ideas and experience, supported by communal life, extensive intellectual freedom, allowing each participant to develop according to his or her needs and aspirations, Focus on action accompanied by a clear commitment to the community —including the host community and Commitment to dialogue among cultures, which allows participants to understand and assimilate viewpoints built within multiple frames of reference.

As a graduate student at McGill University I had the privilege to have served as a honorary intern with YAHAnet which is an innovative networking platform that provides young people from around the world with the opportunity to actively and creatively participate in the fight against HIV & AIDS using an interdisciplinary approach which combines public health, education, art, and technology

I strongly believe that young people need to influence policies at the political level. In my efforts to seek audience with World Leaders, I have had the opportunity of meeting and discussing youth and global issues with The Right Honourable Paul Martin who was the twenty-first Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Martin Brian Mulroney, who  was the 18th Prime Minister of Canada, John Baird, Minister of foreign affairs, Canada. , The former Prime Minister of Kenya,  Raila Amollo Odinga, among other world leaders.

I have served as a Focal point for Y-PEER in Rift Valley. Y-PEER is a network of young people from dozens of countries and hundreds of youth clubs and organizations, with thousands of members around the globe. It works to mobilize youth about issues related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Its main aim is to empower young people with the knowledge and skills to make healthy choices. It partners with local, regional and national organizations to bring about positive social change.

Currently, I serve as the Regional Focal Point for East Africa for the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) which is a youth-led global network of over 8,000 young leaders and adult allies working on youth and HIV/AIDS in over 170 countries world-wide. GYCA's mission is to empower young leaders with the skills, knowledge, resources and opportunities they need to scale up HIV/AIDS interventions amongst their peers. LVCT Health will be partnering with GYCA to increase awareness and utilization of the LVCT Health’s ‘ one2one youth hotline’ which  is a toll free helpline that offers confidential information and counseling services to young people in Kenya and some parts of East Africa 12hours a day (8am-8pm)/ 7days a week. GYCA will disseminate this information in its online regional list serves.

The quote below has been my source of inspiration. The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauve words have consistently called me to action and I have taken upon myself to immerse myself in the opportunities around me to make the world a better place.

“In this fragile age, it is more important than ever that youth be given the opportunity to interact and to experience; that they be allowed to look through the diversity and multiplicity of cultures, religious beliefs, ideologies and systems that exist around them and discover workable principles and elements that are common and sacred to all mankind. In this lies the hope that through youth’s natural affinity to find in each other elements that transcend the traditional barriers of nationality, class, religion and cultural differences, they will discover the answers that have eluded those before them.”