Novartis Corporate Learning Helps REPSSI Meet the Needs of Children in AIDS-Ravaged Africa

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In AIDS-ravished Africa, the proverb, &ldquo;It takes a village to raise a child,&rdquo; carries special significance. Between 15 and 40 percent of all children in the southern countries have lost either one or both parents to the disease. Most assistance efforts, though, focus on the affected children&rsquo;s material and physical requirements, such as food and clothing, and often give priority to adults. <br /><br />REPSSI is a regional African nongovernmental organization that provides leadership in psychosocial care and support services (PSS) programming for children affected by HIV and AIDS, poverty and conflict. REPSSI operates in 13 countries in east and southern Africa, aiming to contribute to mitigating the psychosocial impact of HIV and AIDS, poverty and conflict among children.<br /><br />Initially funded as a loosely formed initiative in 2002, REPSSI grew at a breathtaking pace as organizations, families and communities grasped for these previously overlooked services. It soon became clear, however, that more structure and organization was needed if REPSSI was to have any chance of meeting its goal of expanding psychosocial care and support services from its current level of 500,000 to 5,000,000 children through its partnerships by 2011. Thus began a rather unique relationship between REPSSI and the Corporate Learning function at Novartis, the Swiss-based pharmaceuticals and life sciences company. <br /><br />With assistance from Novartis Corporate Learning, corporate programs were adapted to REPSSI&rsquo;s needs. Leadership workshops and training programs focused on basic skills, prioritization, advocacy, providing feedback and managing difficult conversations; a project management seminar provided the basics of portfolio and risk management, cross-cultural communication and leadership, negotiations and influencing without authority; and financial training was designed for nonprofit organizations. <br />

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