Aidchild, a not-for-profit organization incorporated in both Uganda and the United States, was established in 2000 as a hospice center for orphans living with AIDS who did not have the care of extended family members. In 2002, it became the first pediatric facility in Uganda to provide free anti-retroviral drugs to children. Today,[when?] more than 3,000 children have received care and treatment through Aidchild's inpatient and outpatient services, including a laboratory, two clinics, homes and academies in Masaka and Mpigi, Uganda.
Aidchild is supported by a mix of government and private donors and income-generating activities.
Aidchild was founded by Nathaniel Dunigan. Dunigan first visited 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 many children who were suffering and dying. On his return to the US, he resolved to make a difference, and completed a feasibility study for his Aidchild concept. At the age of 26, he resigned from his job, sold his car and belongings, and moved to Uganda. He had an initial budget of just $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.
Aidchild operates the Equation Gallery, an art gallery and café on the Equator line in Uganda; Ten Tables, a restaurant and screening room in Masaka, and Aidchild's Terrace Club, a rooftop barbecue venue and boutique hostel. International travel guides have called the 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 Café “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.
The organization earns 70% of its own budget from these businesses, and is 100% administratively self-sustained thanks to a Ugandan management team.
- Work in the United States
Dunigan 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, Dunigan was nominated for the World of Children Award.
After living in rural Uganda for nine years, Dunigan completed a Master’s Degree in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, specializing in Human Development and Psychology, and a PhD in Leadership and Education at the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES). He was also a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship at the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award.
- Current work
Dunigan now divides his time between Uganda and San Diego where he is the Dammeyer Fellow at SOLES.
Dunigan has personally adopted more than 100 children in Uganda. He and the Ugandan staff continue to receive new children. They usually arrive with diagnoses giving less than one month to live, but after Aidchild’s interventions go on to lead healthy lives.
- Vanderson, Jessie (22 March 2001). "Out of Africa". Tucson Citizen. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Andersen, Jill (2 December 2009). "From One to Many: Master’s Student Nathaniel Dunigan". Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- "Annual Report 2003". The AIDS/HIV Integrated Model District Programme.
- "AIDS Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Africa". United States Congress.
- Dunigan, Nathaniel. "My Path to the Reynolds Fellowship". Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- "Honors Awarded at 2010 Convocation Ceremony". Harvard Graduate School of Education. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- "Student Profile". Retrieved 21 April 2012.