Together with the communities we serve, GAIA develops innovative and caring healthcare programs in resource-deprived regions in Africa, especially those most affected by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
To ensure the broadest possible impact, we rigorously test our initiatives and promote the replication of successful models.
Empowering women in rural areas.
Promoting prevention in rural communities.
Expanding access to care, treatment, and support in hard-to-reach communities.
Empowering communities to find solutions
Partnering with likeminded organizations to achieve our goals.
The History of GAIA: A Grassroots Strategy to Reach Underserved Villages
GAIA was founded in 2000 by the Rev. Dr. William Rankin, former Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, and Dr. Charles Wilson, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Neurological Surgery, UCSF in response to the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rankin served as GAIA’s first President and CEO and Wilson as President of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Wilson was crucial to the recruitment of luminaries in HIV research to GAIA’s Medical Advisory board to advise and support our work. Our esteemed advisory board members include Dr. Jay Levy, co-discoverer of the virus, and Dr. Michael Gottlieb, who first identified AIDS as a new disease.
GAIA focused its efforts on Malawi as one of the countries hardest hit by HIV and most under-resourced to respond to the epidemic. Especially in the early years, a key component was to work closely with religious organizations, both Christian and Muslim, to reach vulnerable rural communities cut off from HIV prevention and care programs because of their relative isolation.
From the beginning, GAIA focused on a grassroots strategy to reach remote underserved villages, with programs designed and led by Malawians, and shaped in response to community needs. GAIA’s founding Country Director, Jones Laviwa, MA, a development professional, was succeeded in 2015 by Joyce Jere, RNM, MPH, a nurse with vast experience in both clinical work and administration.
In 2011, Dr. Rankin retired, and Todd Schafer, MA was chosen as his successor. GAIA has received funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and USAID.
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