The Story of Crazy Love Africa

After adopting 4 children from Ethiopia and Uganda who were orphaned by AIDS, the mission to empower mothers living with HIV grew in the hearts of the Wiederholt family. In 2014 Crazy Love Africa was born. Jess Wiederholt, happily married to Ben since 2001, is the mother of 7 children. Samuel, Luke, and Abe joined the family 1st by birth. Abiti was then adopted from Ethiopia in 2011. Joselyn and Joseph were adopted from Uganda in 2013 and Lillian adopted from Uganda in 2014.

“Our eyes were opened to the injustices surrounding women living with HIV in Africa. HIV was not killing these young mothers. Instead stigma, poverty, fear, hopelessness was taking these women from their children. We had to do something about that.”  Jess began reading about micro business grants and ways to give women hope through empowerment and community. What started as a way for the Wiederholt family to empower a few women and keep their children involved in the villages where they were born has evolved into a beautiful movement of empowering women and strengthening entire communities. Through creating safe cooperatives, providing training, and teaching skills, our Crazy Love Africa sisters are now leaders in the villages where they live. “We are giving women opportunities and elevating their voices.”

  • JESS WIEDERHOLT, Founder | Executive Director, Denver, CO

    Jess has a master’s degree in child & family therapy and spent many years working with the psychosocial needs of hospitalized children. Her heart is with the marginalized and she works passionately towards forwarding issues of justice for global brothers and sisters both in her own community and with Crazy Love Africa in Uganda. Favorite quote: "I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” -Angela Davis

  • BRIGHT HERBERT, In-Country Coordinator | Uganda

    Bright has been part of our Crazy Love Africa community since its founding.  He has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and spends his life dedicated to youth and family projects in his community.  He is a gifted field worker and relates very well with youth.  Bright himself has a beautiful family.  In his spare time, you can find him working on his home or spending time with family.

  • SHANNA SOLLA, Board Member | Denver, CO

    Shanna is the mother to 2 cool kids and has a huge heart to serve the Lord. Shanna has a Masters of Public Health degree and a dream to work to eradicate extreme poverty globally. Favorite quote: “To whom much is given, much is required” – Jesus, Luke 12:48.

  • KAREN SEAR, Board President | Denver, CO

    Karen is a trauma-informed Psychotherapist.  She has 4 children both adopted and biological. Karen believes change and healing are possible for all human beings. Favorite quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

  • KELLY SCHAER, Board Member | Milwaukee, WI

    Kelly is the Program Director for College Possible. Kelly has a degree in Biology and Psychology and has worked professionally in the non-profit sector helping at-risk youth prepare for college. Kelly is a mother to 3, including 2 sons adopted domestically, Favorite quote: “Only when we take ourselves lightly can we take ourselves seriously, so that we are given the courage to say, “Yes! I dare disturb the universe.” – Madeleine L’Engle

  • GINA WALTER, Board Treasurer | Arvada, CO

    Gina is a Colorado native and mom to 2 Ugandan sons. She has a passion for our mommas in Uganda and our mommas. Gina has a degree in Behavioral Science and Psychology.  Favorite quote: “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou

  • AGABA CHRISTOPHER, Secretary Human Resources | Uganda

    Christopher has a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Management. He has extensive experience in development, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, environmental conservation, planning, and evaluation. He is married and is the father of four children. His life passions are supporting his family and helping others in his community to have a fulfilling life.

  • NATUGOZA SUSAN, Field Assistant & Board Member | Uganda

    Susan is a social worker in Ft. Portal, Uganda and we are lucky enough that she works for Crazy Love Africa.  Susan joined our community in 2016 by receiving a micro business grant. A few years later we hired Susan to be our field worker. Susan has a certificate in social work.  Susan lives in her extended family home and has one son.

  • KABASINGUZI ISEMBO MARGARET, Secretary of Finance | Uganda

    Margaret is a social worker in Ft. Portal, Uganda.  She holds an honors degree in Social Work and Community Development as well as a diploma in Finance. Margaret is married with four children. She has dedicated her life to the growth of women and youth in her community. In her spare time, she enjoys raising rabbits and poultry. We are so honored to have Margaret on our CLA board.

  • BAMUTURAKI FLORENCE, Vice Chairperson | Uganda

    Florence is a social worker and counselor in her community. She has a diploma in social work. Her work and passion is working with vulnerable children.  Florence has five beautiful children and enjoys her spare time spending time with her grandson, working on her garden, and spending time with family and friends.

  • DR. ATEGEKA GILBERT, Chairperson | Uganda

    Dr. Gilbert is a medical doctor in Ft. Portal, Uganda. He has a medical degree in Medicine and Surgery.  Dr. Gilbert is married and has been blessed with beautiful children. He has dedicated his life to reaching out to the less privileged in his community.  You will see Dr. Gilbert dedicating his free time to many charity organizations in Uganda, especially women and children living with HIV.

  • KOMUHENDO CONCEPTA, Board Member | Uganda

    Concepta is a therapist in her community. She is married and cares for many children within her village. Concepta’s life passions include giving motivational speeches, offering counseling services, and providing spiritual support. In her spare time she also enjoys reading motivational books.

  • KIM BENAGE, Board Vice President | Denver, CO

    Kim is a family physician, practicing full-spectrum hospital and clinic-based medicine for underserved patients in the Denver area. She is dedicated to providing a healthy home to all patients regardless of insurance, education, or immigration status. She is the mom of four busy children and often volunteers in school and community programs for kids.  Favorite quote: Peace begins with a smile. -St. Teresa of Calcutta

  • TINAH BIRUNGI, Board Member | Uganda

    Tinah joined Crazy Love Africa in 2016 when she received her micro business grant.  Since that day, she has worked so hard and been a role model sister and leader in our Crazy Love Africa community. Tinah has served as a mentor to new sisters and continues to inspire women throughout her village. Tinah is the mother of four children. In her spare time, you will find her starting new projects at her home and improving the lives of others.

  • LILLIAN AKIIKI WIEDERHOLT, Board Secretary | Denver, CO

    Lillian is a Ugandan American who moved to the U.S. in 2014. She and her siblings are the inspiration for Crazy Love Africa and we are honored to have her on our board. Lillian attends college at Metro State University in Denver and is a light in the lives of everyone she meets. Favorite quote: "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."-Mayo Angelo

  • TANISHA WEBB, Board Member | Kansas City, MO

    TaNisha has a degree in Respiratory Therapy and worked for 14 years at a children’s hospital. She is a travel consultant and the owner of Urban Chic Travelistas, LLC. TaNisha has an amazing adult daughter. Favorite quote: “Rosa Parks inspired me to find a way to get in the way, to get in trouble… good trouble, necessary trouble.” John Lewis

  • AMY FEIJOO, Board Member | Henderson, CO

    Amy has a master of Arts in Education and is a 3rdgrade teacher. She is mom to 2 cool boys and enjoys watching them play sports. Their family loves camping in the Colorado mountains. Amy believes all human beings should be able to live without being worried about food, shelter, or safety. Favorite quote: To make a school successful, surround yourself with people who share your vision and stand back and let them work. – Kurt Braginetz

  • Davina (Dee Conner) Otalor, Board Member/ Las Vegas, Nevada

    Davina is a remarkable woman with two beautiful daughters and a granddaughter. She has a deep love for travel and finds solace in music, which brings her life immense joy. With an associate degree in public health and a PrEP navigator, Davina began her journey of educating others about HIV in 2015 through an internet podcast radio. Her show served as a platform for individuals living with HIV to share their personal experiences, aiming to eradicate the stigma surrounding the virus. Davina is an accomplished author, a blogger, a film director, and has conducted numerous trainings and workshops on HIV prevention, specifically emphasizing U=U. Favorite quote: "When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed, but when we are silent, we are still afraid, so it is better to speak up."  (Audre Lorde) Davina embodies this quote, fearlessly advocating for change and inspiring others to do the same.

  • Paige Rawl-McNamara, Board Member/ Bailey, CO

  • Julia Gawrychowski, Board Member/Wheat Ridge, CO

    Julia is a wife and a mom to two awesome sons.  She has a degree in Social Work and a heart for social justice.  She currently works in a Montessori classroom with young children, ages 3 to 6 years old, where she has the privilege and opportunity to positively impact young learners. Julia believes that laughter and authenticity are important components of a joyful life and the children she teaches remind her of this everyday.  In her free time, Julia enjoys yoga, camping, hiking, volunteering, live music and quiet time alone. Favorite quote: I do it for the joy it brings, because I'm a joyful girl, because the world owes me nothing and we owe each other the world. - Ani DiFranco

The Impact of HIV

The epidemic is firmly established in the general population of Uganda. As of 2018, the estimated HIV prevalence among adults (aged 15 to 49) stood at 5.7%. Women are disproportionately affected, with 8.8% of adult women living with HIV compared to 4.3% of men. 

  • HIV is a chronic but manageable disease.
  • HIV medicines can’t cure HIV, but they help people with HIV live long, healthy lives.
  • People with HIV take a combination of HIV medicines every day.
  • HIV can only be transmitted three ways: Unprotected sex, sharing of needles, and mother to child: pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • If a person is undetectable by taking medications every day they are suppressed and the virus cannot be transmitted! This is called: U=U, Undetectable = Untransmittable.

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Crazy Love Africa is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 to serve, restore, empower, and strengthen vulnerable women in Uganda who are single mothers.  As a result, we will touch the children in their care, through education, community, and sustainable job creation. By working alongside women as global sisters, we create change, while addressing inequality, and strengthening families, and communities. We believe women deserve our effort, attention, respect, and love.

Our Crazy Love Africa sisters are encouraged to follow their dreams and use their gifts when starting their businesses. We have watched our sisters start sewing shops, small livestock farms, dairies, and other businesses selling firewood, groceries, used clothing, shoes, and traditional food.