March 20, 2018

In addition to being a full-time PharmD student, Ishaya David runs a non-governmental organization based in Nigeria that helps reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS.

David came to Iowa from Nigeria in 2013 to study at Simpson College in Indianola. He had already completed a year of a pharmacy program in Nigeria, making it an easy decision to pursue a pharmacy degree after completing a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.

In rural areas of Nigeria, few schools offer any sort of sex education, and it is not common for parents to talk to their kids about these topics. David’s brother recognized this challenge and he, along with and a few friends, took it upon themselves to fill in the gaps - and Dreams Alive was born. As a young kid, David would tag along with his brother as he traveled. Sadly, David’s older brother died several years ago and, seeing the necessity of the organization, David took the reins of Dreams Alive.

When David considered the direction of Dreams Alive and how he wanted to lead the organization, he noticed a gap in the work his brother had started: the risk-reduction education he provided didn’t include talking about risks associated with intravenous drug use. David now talks with students in a more comprehensive way about HIV risk and has donated books to school libraries for students to read and discuss when he’s not there. He attributes a lot of his success to his age; the students are receptive to him and open up more than they would many of their teachers.

David says he was fortunate to grow up in a city and attend a private school where he learned about many of these topics. But he was surprised to learn that many female students, especially in rural areas, have to miss school during their menstrual cycle because they don’t have access to sanitary products. David began partnering with a school principal to create a feminine hygiene bank so young women can access these supplies and continue attending school.

In his time at the College of Pharmacy, David has been encouraged by the support his fellow students have shown when he talks to them about Dreams Alive. He is considering ways to foster involvement and engagement with Pharmacy students and the work in Nigeria.

This summer, David will return to Nigeria for the first time in three years to partner with a nursing organization to provide free HIV testing. Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world so these testing initiatives can have a big impact.

Much of the fundraising for Dreams Alive occurs in the U.S. David works with friends, family, and school principals in Nigeria to implement the programming. He hopes to return to Nigeria after graduating to further establish the organization and have a broader impact. He says, “This is basically what I want to do with my life.”