Local Life receives $4.8 million government grant to combat AIDS

Cross International, a South Florida-based humanitarian agency, has been awarded a $4.8 million grant from the U.S. government for a new program to prevent the spread of AIDS in Haiti and provide care to orphans and vulnerable children affected by the disease. The grant, announced on World AIDS Day, is the largest Cross has received to date and marks an important step in the young organization’s growth.

“This is the biggest single grant in the history of Cross, a real landmark in the seven years since we began serving the poor,” Cross President Jim Cavnar said. “The competition was tough, and the fact that we were chosen says a lot about our work and how much we have matured as a Life .”

The $4,872,133 grant was awarded through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an initiative started by George W. Bush in 2003 to combat global HIV/AIDS. Cross was one of 19 non-profit organizations to receive funds after a rigorous winnowing process in which 800 different applicants were reviewed.

Cross’ proposal was among the top 10 reviewed in the process. The aim of the grant was to encourage faith-based and local organizations to partner with the U.S. government’s global AIDS initiative.

Cross was awarded a second government grant the same month that will help ship at least $10 million worth of medicines and medical supplies to two hospitals in Afghanistan and Ethiopia next year.

The $61,906 USAID Ocean Freight Reimbursement Grant couldn’t have come at a better time, says Russ Griggs, director of gifts-in-kind and shipping for Cross. “The cost of shipping has gone up 25 percent in the last year. Without this grant we wouldn’t be able to ship these important medical supplies into Afghanistan or Ethiopia.”

In order to receive the grants, Cross’ financial standards and management systems had to pass vigorous government accountability tests, explains David Adams, vice president of missions and the project manager for Cross’ new AIDS program.

“PEPFAR is seen by many as the Bush Administration’s most successful international initiative. This award demonstrates the U.S. government’s confidence in Cross International’s ability to manage a program with a large number of agencies in a difficult environment such as Haiti.”

Working with five mission partners throughout the country, Cross will use the grant money to begin a comprehensive AIDS awareness and care program that targets teens, AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. The three-year project will reach an estimated 5,000 orphans and vulnerable children, providing them with care and medical services. About 92,000 youths and their families will receive AIDS awareness and destigmatization messages through Cross’ efforts. The program will target destitute people in Haiti’s Grand Anse region, the central plateau, the southern coast and Port-au-Prince.

Cross will be opening a field office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s bustling capital city, marking another first for the organization. The expanded presence in Haiti will allow Cross to oversee this new AIDS project, as well as the dozens of other programs it supports in Haiti.

“We are so pleased to have the opportunity to carry out our new plan to alleviate some of the devastation in Haiti caused by AIDS,” Cavnar said. “May the Lord grant us and our Haiti partners the wisdom and grace to use every dollar well to bring great benefit to the poor of Haiti.”

To find out more about Cross International or to donate to the poor, go to www.CrossInternational.org.

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