Panaji: Goa has a special place in French countess Albina du Boisrouvray’s heart. Founder and president of FXB, an international humanitarian organization that works with the world’s disadvantaged to break the cycle of poverty and combat HIV/AIDS, du Boisrouvray sold off her jewellery and donated two thirds of her fortune in 1989 to set up FXB in the memory of her son Francois-Xavier Bagnoud, a rescue pilot who died in a helicopter crash in Mali in 1986.
In India, FXB Suraksha is almost a decade old but du Boisrouvray first began work in the state of Goa in 1990 caring for babies of commercial sex workers who had no treatment against AIDS and would often die leaving behind orphans. She set up a number of AIDS prevention education information centres and funded the education of 50 little boys from disadvantaged sections of the society from Sanguem.
At the ongoing HIV Congress in the capital city, Du Boisrouvray was conferred with the meritorious service award for her invaluable contribution for the care and support of people living with HIV/AIDS. Health reasons prevented her from personally receiving the award but she told STOI from Portugal that she was humbled and touched that her work received recognition. She recalled the time when HIV/AIDS was still taboo and AIDS orphans were not even recognized in the state. “There was a lot of ignorance surrounding the transmission of AIDS and nobody wanted to even touch aids orphans. It was an upstream battle,” she told STOI.
FXB was one of the first NGOs invited by the National AIDS control organization, part of the Indian ministry of health and family welfare and was also granted official status by the Indian government in 1999 to organize HIV and AIDS prevention activities in the slum areas around Jaipur city. Du Boisrouvray was instrumental in getting May 7 recognized as World AIDS Orphans Day after she presented UN secretary general Kofi Annan with two million signatures in support of the day.
FXB’s integrated community-based village programme gives a grant to participants to set up a business and decreases its investment over three years as revenues and savings of participants increase. “When we started, I rejected the then vogue for micro-credit as a solution to global poverty as it was clear to me that the extreme poor would never be able to provide a sufficient return to repay loans,” says the former journalist and designer who also set up her own film production company in the past.
FXB India Suraksha is looking to start new programs to fight cross border trafficking in Manipur in the North East, Myanmar and China. Governor Mridula Sinha at the awards ceremony function said the HIV virus could be prevented through mass awareness programmes.[TOI]