Remembering Noreen Huni

The members and friends of the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS were deeply saddened by the recent passing of our dear friend and colleague, Noreen Huni. If you had the good fortune to meet Noreen – through her capacity as the founding Executive Director and CEO of the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), or in her role as the Co-Chair of the Coalition – you know well what it was to be graced with her warmth, passion, and humility. You know, too, the enormity of this loss. It is rare that you find a dedicated leader with such vision, compassion, and drive combined with a cheeky smile and the kindest of hearts.

From the beginning of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, Noreen played key roles, demanding that children and families hardest hit receive the support they need to not only survive, but to foster the resilience needed to thrive. Her tireless efforts to mainstream psychosocial support into programs for children and youth have guided the work of numerous organizations and policy making bodies throughout Sub Saharan Africa, impacting the lives of countless children and families. The long lasting impact of Noreen’s efforts goes far beyond the region of Sub Saharan Africa, shaping multiple fields and global processes.

In her role as Co-Chair over the past four years, Noreen guided the efforts of the Coalition to strengthen its advocacy focus, including establishing a formal ambassador program in partnership with women living with HIV.

Among her many well-deserved honors was the prestigious 2018 Klaus Jacobs prize for social innovation in the field of youth and child development. But Noreen needed no awards to prove her worth.  Coalition member, Lorraine Sherr’s recollection of a recent meeting in Tanzania exemplifies Noreen’s passion for her work and for life itself:

“Despite failing health, she chaired this ground breaking meeting with the energy of a youth, finished up the business meeting promptly and went racing to the game park on the slopes of the Kilimanjaro mountain to feast her eyes on pink flamingos. We feasted our eyes on her happiness. The earth echoes hollow with Noreen’s death.”