HIV / Aids Prevention Programme for Youth at Risk
An Overview of current and planned projects
In addition to the millions who are infected with HIV or suffer from Aids, nearly everyone in some way or another in this country is affected by the epidemic.
Studies and reports on HIV/Aids point out that a strong emphasis on prevention is the only way to control and reduce the outbreak and to be able to provide care for the many already infected.
The following is an expose outlining a framework for HIV/Aids prevention, utilizing specific educational modules and sports, arts and culture (recreational activities). This expose is based on recommendations from Marian Goodman, EDUCO, Julia Willand, IMCOSA, Derek Joubert, ASSET (Association for Educational Transformation), Prof. Pumla Gobodo - Madikizela, Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town (UCT) and Elke Geising, Nala - Partners for Entrepreneurship.
At the core of the envisaged support programme must be the theme of empowering young people with a rounded sense of self identity and self responsibility imparting the knowledge that they are responsible and take charge of their lives.
During the long and traumatizing years of Apartheid, people's sense of self worth, self esteem and the sense of responsibility for one's life were thoroughly destroyed. Specific and well focused educational and recreational (sports) programmes targeting at risk youth must therefore be underpinned by life skills development and ongoing mentoring.
Poverty is another key contributor to the spread of HIV/Aids. Young people in poor communities do not have access to life enhancing activities. Opportunities for finding pleasure and self fulfillment by engaging in a variety of recreational activities such as sports, arts, dance, music lessons and many more are not available or accessible to poor youngsters. Thus, often the only sources of 'meaningful' recreational engagement is unsafe (as condom use is unpopular) sex.
Therefore, a major thrust of prevention programmes needs to be the focus on "let's use our bodies differently - in a healthy and life force building way". Sports activities represent a powerful opportunity in this regard. Sports and recreation offer new avenues of expression for poor youngsters.
Furthermore, linking Sports, Arts and Culture and Education can then become a powerful model for re-focusing HIV/Aids education in an innovative way. As an example, after school or during holidays, kids will be able to participate in soccer (perhaps soccer for girls as well, as empowerment), volleyball or other recreational events.
Research into the effects of the traumatic impact of HIV/Aids and how to cope with its impact could become an ongoing component. It helps to develop successful coping and intervention models. For example, a UCT research project interviewed HIV positive young women and examined the impact of disclosure. In so many cases, people are afraid to be tested and when they are, do not disclose out of fear of rejection. They attempt to cope with the traumatic experience on their own or often simply give up and their lives disintegrate.
Several powerful testimonials were given in this study whereby early disclosure was experienced by the afflicted women as a powerful way of being set free with the result that they became actively involved in HIV/Aids prevention and assumed community leadership roles. The UCT research team is continuously working on harnessing the psychological power of disclosure and developing models for 'training' people how to disclose, improve their health coupled with the transformation into a healthy lifestyle and attitude. Accelerating disclosure and channeling it's positive energies has the added effect of increasing the chance of effective early treatment and reducing costly care requirements for the terminally ill.
Young people, who have successfully completed their Matric education (High School equivalent), changed their outlook on life and took responsibility were interviewed about what support they experienced as critical. They unanimously stated that in addition to quality education, life skill development, access to recreational activities and ongoing mentoring were critical elements for their successful transformation.
The following provides an overview of the key components, which the local programme development team has identified for recommendation for the HIV/Aids prevention and support campaign. A detailed description follows.
For the delivery of services Nala - Partners for Entrepreneurship, ASSET and EDUCO, three well established and successful service providers are the initial project partners. The team will combine their capabilities to support youth at risk with educational tutoring (Saturday School - ASSET) and leadership and personal development support (EDUCO). Additionally, ASSET will lead the development sports programmes. ASSET and EDUCO will combine forces to deliver HIV/Aids counseling to all youth enrolled.
Nala - partners for Entrepreneurship will provide business mentoring and start up support for those wishing and able to start their own mall business and thus generate income.
Additionally, Nala - Partners, a section 21 company will assume good governance responsibility representing the interest of German funding partners. It is envisaged that additional project partners will be selected as the project grows. We propose to create a Steering Committee to guide the programme implementation and expansion.