History of MACAO
The name Malezi AIDS Care and Awareness Organization stems from the organization’s roots in East Africa, where it started in northern Tanzania in 2003. “Malezi” is a Swahili word meaning “upbringing,” often associated with raising children in an empowering way with education and opportunity.
In 2003 Juliana Jonathan, of Loliondo, Ngorongoro, Tanzania and her husband Baraka Eliud gathered together local community members to form what is now MACAO Tanzania. After losing a close friend affected by HIV/AIDS, and recognizing the severe deficit of knowledge and access to resources in the Ngorongoro District, particularly by the pastoral Maasai communities comprising the majority of the local population, MACAO’s vision to educate the public about HIV/AIDS was born. MACAO identified four key goals to achieve within the Ngorongoro District. These were to:
- Increase HIV/AIDS awareness through community participation,
- Increase community capacity to provide home-based care for people living with HIV/AIDS
- Increase community capacity to hinder negative HIV/AIDS impacts on the community, and
- Provide education and livelihood care for orphaned or vulnerable children
In September of 2006. after three years of working among the 28 pastoral Maasai villages in the Loliondo and Ngorongoro divisions of the Ngorongoro District MACAO obtained registration from the Tanzanian government as a Non-governmental Organization (NGO). After registering MACAO worked with national and international volunteers and in 2010 began the Ngorongoro Orphan Care Center, aimed at providing education to orphaned and other marginalized children affected by HIV/AIDS.
In 2011 Tyler Nelson worked with MACAO in Ngorongoro to customize their HIV/AIDS curriculum to the unique needs of the Maasai pastoralist lifestyle and recognized the need for heightened program organization and support. After this initial partnership and upon returning to the United States of America, he began putting together what is now MACAO International, an organization pursuing tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status from the United States government. The goals of MACAO International, in alignment with those of the original MACAO in Tanzania, are to provide education and resources to populations facing unique cultural barriers to a healthy and happy standard of living and at particular risk to preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS.
Currently MACAO International is in the process of incorporating the United States and seeking tax exempt status. Upon completion of this process it will seek not only to achieve current goals, but to solidify a model of health prevention and control strategies in Tanzania to be replicated among unique and marginalized populations in other parts of the world.