A fantastic opportunity arose recently when one of our funders, AVERT, invited TackleAfrica coaches and staff from Zambia and Malawi to a three day workshop in South Africa to discuss HIV programming for young people. AVERT fund our work in Malawi with the Umunthu Foundation, and our project staff were delighted to spend time with other young HIV programmers from across South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. Over three days, they shared information and identified gaps in training materials for young people in relation to HIV. It was a chance to share successes and challenges, and come up with new ideas for their respective communities and programmes.
From Malawi, we had three representatives from the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) programme at the Umunthu Foundation, encouraging young men to take up the procedure. VMMC has been shown to reduce female-to-male transmission of HIV by up to 60%, and is a key tool in the fight against HIV. Peter Dias is the Project Officer from the Umunthu Foundation and was joined by his colleague Griffin Spence. Working alongside Peter and Griffin is Emily Issa, a Project Officer from another Malawian partner, the Girls Empowerment Network (GENET). Emily is also finishing the implementation of an HIV education programme for GENET where she works with Project Officer Loveness Kadaudau. Both Emily and Loveness travelled to South Africa to share their perspectives. Finally, from Zambia we were represented by James Phiri and Nancy Chishimba from the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Research Zambia (CIDRZ). James and Nancy are peer education counsellors who have been trained in TackleAfrica methodology, and now delivery weekly HIV and sexual health education sessions to their football teams. Each project staff member brought unique insights to the workshop, and found there was much to learn from the other participants. Here are some of their thoughts…
Loveness, GENET: “I learnt a lot about the power of images. We can tell stories through the use of images and eye catching images can influence young people in taking action on HIV & Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) issues. We should avoid telling youths scaring messages; all we have to do is tell them the truth on issues of HIV and SRH. I liked it because it was a youth workshop which encouraged the youths to express their experiences, the gaps that are there when communicating SRH & HIV information, and the analysis on different ICE materials that are available in some African countries. This will help in my programming because I am now aware of the gaps that exists in SRH & HIV issues among the youth, hence I will make sure that I take part in fixing the gap.”
Emily, GENET: “We talked about the communication materials both good and bad, passing messages through posters, images and the power of colour on images when giving out information. If we need to create content for young people, let’s make them key leaders to produce information of the content. Working in groups helps also because it helps to share ideas, experiences, and problems.”
Griffin, Umumthu: “The workshop was amazing! I learnt the good, the bad and the ugly. We did an analysis wheel where we learnt we See, Think, Feel and Do – not only that we also look where to get information on HIV.”
Peter, Umunthu: “I found the workshop to be very useful because it gave the young people a platform to discuss issues around HIV and how it is affecting the young people. I also found it to be useful because the young people themselves were open to bring out the issues affecting the young people that they work with, which areas around HIV that they want to hear more information on, and how they want to hear the messages. For example, some of the areas to be covered with information we came up with were ART treatment education and disclosure among the young people. It was also great to learn and realise that it is high time since we have been using old ways of giving out information. As young leaders who are working with young people, we need to think of new ideas and interventions to bring out something new to the communities.”
Nancy, CIDRZ: “I learnt how to bring out information to young people in a new, different way. It was very useful to me because I learnt new things from different countries. I enjoyed the place and people around. The benefits it can bring to our country, Zambia, are so many. Young people will now have a chance to lead their fellow young people when given a chance to do.”
James, CIDRZ: “It was wonderful and educating… I loved it. Although there were emotions at the end, because of how we all departed. We had created a bond with each other.”
All those featured here are project staff implementing TackleAfrica programmes at their respective organisations. We give huge thanks to everyone at Umunthu Foundation, GENET and CIDRZ for designing and delivering great programming, and we are proud and grateful for the continued partnership with AVERT.
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If you would like to get involved, please visit www.tackleafrica.org/get-involved for details.