AidChild continues to be one of the greatest treasures in my life-experience. When I first considered a move to Africa to offer assistance to orphans living with AIDS, my vision was quite limited. I saw myself sitting under an acacia tree with about ten or twelve children. A small family of support and cherished life — myself in the role of Daddy, with the help of a nanny or part-time nurse. We would provide hospice care as our terminally ill babies passed through their too-short human-experience.
BUT (!) once I got started, I learned how much NEEDED to be done (there are 2.3 million orphans here), and that we could do it (with treatment, many CAN live).
It was at once exhilarating and terrifying.
This was going to be much bigger than my tree-house vision.
While I was up for the task, I wasn’t sure I was really capable.
So I started building a team. I am now surrounded by so many trained, intelligent, compassionate, and wonderful people — including YOURSELF.
We wake up each day to the tasks at hand, empowered by your partnership; by your active compassion of prayer, support, and TLC. And we are deeply grateful.
Thank you so much,
—Nathaniel Dunigan, kids & staff
PS I also blog at www.nathanieldunigan.com.
Nathaniel Dunigan first signed up to visit Uganda when he was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor in Tucson, Arizona. A one-month assignment as a volunteer HIV-prevention educator had taken him to Africa where he met so many children who were suffering and dying. His return to the states was marked with a great resolve to make a difference. That resolve led Nathaniel to complete a feasibility study for his AidChild concept, and then to resign from his job, sell his home, car and belongings, and move to Uganda. He was 26 years old, and had an entire budget of $3,500. Two years later, AidChild was chosen by the Ugandan and American governments as a model of pediatric HIV/AIDS care for the entire continent of Africa. A second center was created just after that, as was a treatment laboratory that has served the needs of more than 3,000 children and adults living with AIDS. The organization earns 70% of its own budget thanks to businesses he created under the AidChild corporate label, and is 100% administratively self-sustained thanks to a Ugandan management team.
Nathaniel lived in rural Uganda for nine years before going to Harvard University where he completed a Master’s Degree in Education; specializing in Human Development and Psychology. He was also a Reynolds Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He holds a PhD in Leadership and Education, and was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership. Nathaniel now divides his time between Uganda and Florida, where he is AidChild’s CEO in our American office.
Nathaniel has testified before the United States Congress in Washington, DC as an expert witness in the identification of best practices of care for orphans living with AIDS, and other vulnerable children in Africa. In 2004, Nathaniel was nominated for the World of Children Award.
Nathaniel’s love of the arts and his commitment to achieving self-sustainability for AidChild have resulted in the creation of two art galleries, a café, a restaurant and screening room. International travel guides have called the AidChild businesses the very best in the whole of Eastern and Central Africa. Clients include international celebrities, Ambassadors, and UN personnel. Lonely Planet calls AidChild’s Equation Cafe’ “first class,” and Oscar winner Emma Thompson says it is “possibly the best shop on the planet”. The Eye magazine named AidChild’s restaurant the best in the nation in 2008.
Nathaniel and staff continue to receive new children; usually arriving with diagnoses of less than one month to live. But thanks to AidChild’s aggressive, skilled and loving interventions, the children go on to lead healthy, happy lives.
Nathaniel speaks fluent English and Spanish, and conversational Luganda. He holds special language certification from private institutions in Guatemala and Mexico. He was raised on the Navajo reservation in the southwestern United States.