John Animasaun is a pharmacist and a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Albany. He was born and raised in Nigeria, the eldest of six children. St. Paul's supports Animasaun in his ministry to Nigerians with HIV/AIDs.
With help from St. Paul's parishioners, I was able to set up two merit-based scholarships for high school students. Each is about $100 and pays a full year of tuition and books.
It is difficult to separate an African man from his beliefs. It is common in Nigeria to say AIDS stands for American Idea of Discouraging Sex. Many people don't realize it is a real disease.
What happened when you returned?
I spoke at St. Paul's at a coffee hour discussion. I said I would like to do more. The church sponsored a second trip and I went back for about a month. By this time, I had a bigger network and had established World Care International Organization.
How successful was this trip?
I was able to organize a group of five people in Nigeria who were willing to work in the communities there to create awareness about AIDS and for people to not take it lightly. A couple infected with AIDS accompanied me and spoke as living examples of the disease. They said that when a landlord finds out that the tenant has AIDS, you are evicted. You lose your job.
How would you like to continue this hands-on ministry?
I would like to go back every year. The church is very supportive, but it is a question of funding. We hope to have the World Care International Organization Web site up soon.
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