Regional Field Officer, Champions For Life
Craig’s academic and professional career is mainly influenced by his work to help improve the quality of life faced by adolescents living with HIV in southern and east Africa on a voluntary basis.
Craig has been involved with Champions For Life, an organisation that provides psychosocial support to adolescents living with HIV in 13 countries since for the past nine years as a Regional Field Officer (among other roles). Although he is HIV negative, he has been able to identify with his adolescent peers who are living with HIV and has been able to help them through his own life story. He is also research-oriented, his first academic thesis was on HIV self-testing.
At just 24 years of age, Craig has helped Champions for Life develop evaluation tools and screen for psychosocial challenges faced by adolescents living with HIV, and advocates for connecting them to facilities that can help them on an individual basis. He has also spoken at various change platforms that push for policy change in areas that disadvantage young people living with HIV. Some of these platforms include ICASA 2015, AIDS 2016, Namibia AIDS conference, Paediatric & Adolescent HIV prevention care treatment support symposium, and the Children & HIV: Equity Now! among others.
Craig holds a BSc. Psychology (hons.) from Midlands State University, Zimbabwe.
Inequality is a phenomenon widely experienced in my part of Africa but under-reported and often swept under the covers of corruption, abuse and violence. There is a vast number of inequalities that cut across social class, gender, health, and economic access and if inequality is spoken of we are quick to look at the people that are responsible for it. However, during my work with the Atlantic Fellows programme I hope to look at how inequality is caused by health factors and other ‘non-human’ proponents of inequality
I grew up in a poor community that had no veils to cover up inequality if you were poor (like in my case). You were poor, and could not access certain services, especially when enrolling in a good school. For my high school education, I ended up learning at a school with an enrolment of almost 3,000 students and the teacher-pupil ratio was extremely unfavourable. Despite being a bright student, I failed my first attempt at my GCE O level examinations.
At home I really saw the injustice of HIV first hand. My father died from HIV-related illnesses and my community refused to offer us any help, we were often subjected to ridicule and fought a lot of stigma. Due to my background I developed an interest in finding ways to break out of my situation and as I got older I began to see that there were so many young people in worse situations than mine, that the status quo has forced them to accept their living conditions, and that very few break the cycles of poverty and disease that is prevalent in the majority of our communities.
My academic interests are in the field of HIV, addressing gaps that cause inequality through sexual reproductive health and the burden of the disease. Through the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme, I look forward to being empowered to practically tackle issues in this area. I also look forward to explore how emerging technologies can be harnessed to bring equity in different setting but mainly looking at addressing the inequality of access to health care mainly faced by key populations highly affected by chronic diseases in Africa.
One of my goals is to become a public health expert dealing with the injustice caused by health problems that create inequality in the future and this opportunity is a big stepping stone to achieving that.