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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   

Giving Hope to Aids Orphans
Kevin Fiori, Warren ’02

   
     

For Kevin Fiori, three years in Togo was not enough.

After UCSD, he completed a master’s degree in public health at Boston University and then decided he wanted to learn about infectious diseases in West Africa. He got the opportunity for hands-on experience when he joined the Peace Corps and they sent him to Togo, bordering on Ghana to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, and Benin to the east.

For the three years of his service, working mostly with HIV/AIDS victims, Fiori’s10-hour days would start at 6 a.m. in the clinic and include home visits, youth programs and fieldwork with health workers.

After his Peace Corps service ended, Fiori decided to continue his work in the area, and he and his brother, Thomas Fiori, a UC Berkeley alumnus, ’03, founded Hope Through Health, a nonprofit development project. “After three years,” Fiori says, “I was just starting to realize how ignorant I was regarding the terrible situation of millions.”

Hope Through Health provides technical and financial support for community health initiatives in resource-deprived areas, with a focus on HIV/AIDS support for the over 1,000 patients in Kara. The project also develops innovative approaches to break down cultural barriers. They have weeklong camps for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, which encourage skill building and offer support and social opportunities. Most importantly, they provide free treatment (with a one-dollar monthly contribution) in order to promote early detection of the HIV virus.

“The poverty in Togo is overwhelming,” Fiori says. “It is a life-changing moment to see how people living in the same world can also live in completely different realities.”

Within five years, Fiori hopes to expand Hope Through Health to at least one additional West African nation and plans to continue his community work while working on his M.D. and Ph.D. in medical or sociocultural anthropology. And he says he is particularly grateful for UCSD professors Jay Siegel, Andrew McCammon and Willie Brown for teaching him valuable research skills, giving him a new perspective on the world and continuing to support and encourage him in his projects.

— Neda Oreizy, ’08

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"It is a life-changing moment to see how people living in the same world can also live in completely different realities."