HIV AIDS is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the world today. In most developing countries, the disease has brought untold suffering to key populations especially in resource strained countries in sub Saharan Africa. It is against this back ground that “friends of the less fortunate” group was formed. This is a charitable group that started way back in 2005 at Yale university school of medicine to create HIV awareness in rural communities in Africa. It was formed by three African American doctors who were on scholarship at the University. The group also supports over 500 orphans in East Africa. Since then, the group has increased its membership tremendously. Currently the group comprises of over 500 members drawn from different professionals in the health sector.
The underlying factors of poverty, social cultural beliefs and political instability in some developed countries have increased prevalence levels in sub-Saharan Africa. The group aims at reducing the prevalence levels through raising awareness and social support of people living with HIV AIDS.
The core values of the group are drawn from the Hippocratic Oath, guidelines and teachings of the holy bible. Service to humanity coupled with the need to help others, forms the motivating values in the group. Caring for the less fortunate especially the orphans is an obligation to all the group members. All group members are supposed to contribute equally where Ideas brought forward during the monthly meetings are evaluated and later implemented after consultation from all members. The need to respect each other’s idea is mandatory. All ideas presented are evaluated equally thus bringing the aspect of togetherness in the group.
In any group team work is key to success. Team work coupled with Professionalism forms another key value that is practiced by all the group members. For example, all members must spare one of their holidays to spend with the orphans support by the group in Africa. In this way, medical camps are organized where all the duties are delegated to members according to their area of expertise. Since group norms serve to regulate and check the activities of a given group, failure to attend such medical camps subjects the defaulter to cover the full expenses of the camp. Such activities end up to be successful a point that other groups have borrowed ideas from the group. The written rules and regulations must be adhered to by all the group members.
In every group there is always some kind of leadership that gives direction to its followers. Without this kind of leadership, the aims and objectives of such group cannot be achieved. Since the group serves to benefit the public, any form of leadership is usually not subjected to any form of competition rather most of the positions of the group are on voluntary basis. However, due to the requirements of the law and purposes of documentation, the group is headed by three directors who are supported by grant makers in charge of fundraisings.
The need to involve communities especially on issues touching on HIV AIDS is one of the most important aspects that have helped in realizing the objectives of the group. In this way, local populations are supported through provision of temporary employment. On the other hand they provide a link between the group and the local community. Data needed for logistics and planning is collected easily and as a result, base line surveys are provide meaningful results on the part of planning.
Individuals join various groups due to a wide range of reasons especially in order to satisfy a need or to serve others. On the other hand, others may join a group due to the similarities that they feel are shared among individuals of a particular group. For example, friends of the less fortunate group, is composed of health professionals who are involved in day to day patient care. The members have a better understanding of the challenges faced by the people living with HIV. Membership to the group is entirely free and voluntary. All those that feel that they are philanthropic enough to work for the less fortunate are encouraged to join the group.
The value of serving and helping the less privileged is one of the determinants whether a group member will cope in the group. Group dynamics are huge especially among peers. However, members may differ on opinions but this does not amount to removal from the group. On the other hand, non-members may understand the values accrued to the group. Prejudiced views between groups are inevitable. The fact that human beings are sometimes susceptible to Peer pressure, group differences arise especially those fueled by non-members. Only the group members can understand the challenges at hand in relation to the HIV disease. Group members are encouraged to maintain their image through following the rules and roles of the group.
Each group has its own style in which its affairs and activities are run. An all inclusive language and style is widely used within the group. This is to avoid group differences and also differences between the group and the society members that the group serves. For example words like ‘cohorts’ and ‘people living with HIV AIDS’ are used by the group members to refer to new infections and those that are infected with the disease. Cultural competency is also widely employed in the group due to the fact that individuals come from different backgrounds. Some of the words used have been adopted in local health programs in efforts to reduce the stigma associated with the disease.
Group identity helps individuals to connect within one another. It might also impact negatively or positively to the wellness of group members. Challenges faced by the people living with HIV AIDS forms a common identity to all group members. These challenges have been an eye opener and also an inspiration on the need to continue helping the less fortunate in the community. The need to associate with people with a common goal of helping others is also inspiring. However some may feel that helping the less fortunate is a burden to them.
The simple things of helping others make the group different from others. For example, turning gloomy faces filled with desperation into smiley faces of hope is a blessing. Group members spend their holidays away from their families in far lands interacting with people from different cultures where cultural beliefs where great experiences are shared. The need to work in the health sector requires commitment and the love of caring for others.