OSSINING, N.Y. – Hiking enthusiasts have trouble keeping up with the three-mile-an-hour pace of Ossining scientist Rolande Hodel as she leads people through the Rockefeller Preserve in Pleasantville.
As seriously as she takes her commitment to head the Tuesday evening Meetup group, is her devotion to her life’s mission: saving lives.
Hodel is president and founder of AIDSfreeAFRICA, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Africans become more self-sufficient by producing essential, generic HIV/AIDS drugs. Her goal is to facilitate the access of medicine to infected African women.
Since 2005, the German-born chemist/women’s rights activist has been spending three months a year in Camaroon, consulting with start-up pharmaceutical companies.
Facing physical and political dangers – she came down with malaria and was out for awhile – she works to raisefunds, build alliances, and share technical expertise on the day-to-day operations of running AIDSfreeAFRICA. She also consults with drug production and drug supply chain management, and works to implement and supervise income-generating programs.
In developing the project, Hodel opened her conversations with Camaroonian stakeholders by asking, “What is it you need? What is it you already have? What is it that’s not working?” to pave the way for eventual self-sufficiency and to allow for open dialog.
“Then I came back to the United States to find all these things – the technology, the people – and we were successful in almost all areas,” she said in a statement.
Her work with the women of the area revealed what was working and what needed an overhaul.
Hodel adopted the “U.S. thrift store concept,” bringing donated items from the U.S. that are in high demand in Camaroon.
The women pay a token fee to AIDSfreeAFRICA for the goods to cover the high ocean shipping costs, and then sell them to their villages with a good and sustainable profit margin. Much of this work is done under the radar, as the law in Camaroon allows a husband to oppose his wife’s right to work in a separate profession.
The home office of AIDSfreeAFRICA is in Ossining. For more information, see the website. Contact Hodel at 914-923-2073 or at RRHodel@aol.com.
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