Monday, January 1, 2007
By: Swallehe Msuya
African-born immigrants from Togo, Congo, Liberia and Cameroon who live in Minnesota brought their families to the ZYOMBI International Project (ZIP) for Christmas gifts a week from Christmas. The Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Alvine Siaka proudly distributed gifts to 105 children who called at the offices of ZIP in Minneapolis to observe the Christmas Tree unveiling ceremony.
ZIP is a non-profit agency that is committed to serving the African immigrant population in Minnesota by helping to fight the scourges of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. They provide free testing, counseling and preventive education through community outreach programs in schools, churches, and community centers. They involve church and community leaders in alerting the African-born immigrant populations to the dangers of the pandemics that have ravaging many people.
“If you go to a private clinic for Hepatitis C testing, it will cost you some $ 80, but we give free testing at ZYOMBI,” said Siaka whose agency has enjoyed funding support from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and a pharmaceutical company named ROCHE.
“In the last three months, we were able to conduct about 100 tests, and huge audiences have attended our educational presentations where we attempt to break some African taboos through culturally appropriate methods and languages to drive our points home”, continued Siaka.
The main target populations for ZYOMBI are Liberian, Cameroon and Togo with whom they communicate in English, French and local dialects through the services of volunteer translators. ZYOMBI intends to expand its services to add food distribution that will include popular African cuisine beginning in the 2007 new year. African immigrants who wish to access the services of ZIP may do so by logging on to www.zip-project.org, or they can send their inquiries via e-mail to [email protected].
The ZYOMBI offices keep their doors open for members of the African immigrant population who wish to take advantage of the wellness services that are offered. Their welcoming office is located at 1931 1st Avenue/Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis. They can also be reached by phone on (612)-229-2679.