Esmael Njuguna


  • Program Year
  • 2011-12
  • Country of Current Residence
  • U.S.A.
  • City/Town of Current Residence
  • New York City
  • Current Position
  • Founder
  • Organization
  • Profession(s)
  • NGO Manager

  • Sector(s)
  • Advocacy, Education, Healthcare, NGOs
  • Language(s)
  • English, Swahili
  • Interest(s) / Expertise
  • health, HIV/AIDS, human rights, NGOs
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Born and raised in Kenya, Esmael has tirelessly dedicated himself to working with marginalized members of his community on sexuality, human rights and HIV/AIDS education and advocacy.  Esmael’s family and community have been deeply affected by HIV/AIDS. His vision of change is therefore at once universal and deeply personal. His commitment is rooted in his conviction that he is on this Earth to serve. His love for people and passion for their success have led him to volunteer thousands of hours for the betterment of his community.

Esmael founded AFYAFRIKA, a small non-profit, youth-led and youth serving organization that aims to improve health and self-sufficiency among underserved youth through health promotion, education, training, advocacy and research. Through dynamic programming, young people overcome barriers, enabling them to have healthy and self-sufficient lives. In 2009, it won an MTV “Staying Alive” award in recognition of its role in finding creative approaches to fighting HIV and AIDS in his community. With the support of that three-year grant from MTV, he has been managing, a project focused on ensuring effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for sex workers, as well as their meaningful and active involvement in these efforts.

Esmael also serves as the Rift Valley Province Focal Point for Y-PEER Kenya. In July 2010, he was a Sexuality Leadership Development Fellow at the Action Health Inc. training facility in Lagos, Nigeria. This opportunity allowed him to learn and share experiences regarding effective strategies for policies and programs aimed at reducing sexual violence against girls and women, and to explore contemporary research and practice.

He also participated in the English Language Minorities Fellowship Programme in Geneva. Organized by the United Nations Office of the Human Rights Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), it is designed to give persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities the opportunity to gain knowledge of the UN system and mechanisms dealing with international human rights in general and minority rights in particular.

He worked as a Volunteer, Youth Leader and Y-PEER Rift Valley Network Member for USAID Aids Population Health Integrated Assistance II (APHIAII) Project in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya, to establish a regional network of stakeholders, including one hundred youth-serving organizations and adult partners. He has received advanced training in Harm Reduction Education (HRE) and innovative community interventions, including HIV management; Behavioural Survey Surveillance (BSS); counselling; puppetry; magnet theatre; and behaviour change communication; Training of Trainers in capacity building, anti-female genital mutilation advocacy, and data quality assessment.

Esmael has co-organized workshops on abortion, rape, and teen pregnancy, and recently began running outreach programs for people living with disabilities, and for widows who are sexually exploited as a result of Kenya’s patriarchal culture. Esmael has taken every opportunity to further his education, obtaining his Bachelors of Arts from Kenyatta University with a major in Sociology and a diploma in Social Work from the Pago Training Institute, and pursuing further studies in social sciences.


As a Fellow

As a Fellow, Esmael worked to enhance the capacity of AFYAFRIKA. Through dynamic programming, young people overcome barriers, enabling them to have healthy and self-sufficient lives. He developed a Strategic Plan, a Financial Regulations Manual, a Human Resources Policy and Procedures Manual and refined organizational Constitution. The main objective of this capacity building process was to achieve sustainability and to more effectively meet his organization’s mission.

Curious, optimistic and humorous about life, Esmael has demonstrated a strong sense of independence, vision and innovative thinking. He embraces systemic thinking and strives to replace relationships based on dominance and competition with relationships based on reciprocity, collaboration, and service to others, encouraging recognition of the essential nobility of others. Above all, he is willing to take risks and to act in support of his vision.