Pemba, Tanzania. The Pemba Island Relief Organization (PIRO) won a grant from the Rapid Funding Envelope (RFE) in 2005 aimed at raising awareness and providing education on HIV/AIDS on the island of Pemba. The organization did this by establishing an extensive network of peer educators that included youths, community leaders, and religious leaders. They also opened a youth centre in Mkoani, an underserved urban area. PIRO laid a strong foundation of HIV/AIDS awareness in Pemba not seen before on the island—people of all ages, sexes, and statures in the community speaking openly of AIDS. In late 2006, PIRO received a second RFE grant aimed at strengthening the island’s overall competency in HIV/AIDS at all levels of the public and private sectors.
Mr. Alawiy Bakar Hamad, PIRO’s Executive Director, explains the inspiration for their current program: “When you hear the world talk about AIDS, they say things like it’s a cross-cutting issue, that we need to mainstream HIV, that there needs to be commitment at all levels. . . but what does that all mean? Here, we are just starting to recognize the problem, and the language the rest of the world speaks is very technical and many don’t understand.” PIRO identified six local organizations to work with, to build their capacity in HIV/AIDS. In addition, government and other local leaders were also invited to participate in workshops aimed at improving the technical knowledge of the community. They launched the project on World AIDS Day, with Asha Abdulla, the director of the Zanzibar AIDS Commission present. PIRO also used some of the grant to scale up the work of their first grant, including the establishment of a second community youth centre and training additional youth peer educators in the most remote areas of the island.
In 2005, PIRO was known as a capable organization working for the development of Pemba, one of the least developed regions of Tanzania. During and following the successful implementation of its first RFE grant, PIRO’s experience and reputation grew, and their partnerships have increased with donors and other organizations in Pemba. Now in 2007, PIRO is implementing a project as a proven leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.