– this little girl said. She is about 12 years old and has been taught a poem about guys and their manipulative ways: First they say hi to you, then they want to be your friend, and then suddenly you find yourself with a big tummy and a life-threatening diease, which the guy is already giving to the next girl.
HIV/AIDS is a huge problem in our area of Kenya. It is estimated that at least 20% live with the disease. It is often contracted when people are very young due to a lack of use of protection.
It is a terrible disease with an almost equally terrible stigma surrounding it. You are not allowed to tell other people if a person has HIV or AIDS – that can actually send you to prison! Due to this stigma, it is extremely difficult to talk about it. But seeing that Momentum works with young people in our farmer groups, it is our responsibility to address the issue.
We will emphasize the importance of protection, of always demanding that the male partner wears a condom and that both parties are tested before intercourse. We want to do this by conducting trainings at every one of our farming sessions. We don’t want to just create an awareness campaign, we want to change their mindsets. We need them to see the kind of life they will have with the disease, and the kind of life they can have without. As we will be teaching them farming techniques that have a very high probability of increasing their farm output and also business skills that will teach them how to facilitate this increase in a financially lucrative way, one argument we will put forth is the lower financial gain due to lower productivity. Lower productivity due to being sick, will impact their output and their capability to invest in something productive. Though this might seem like a cold way of portraying a disease like this, we think it will ressonate well with this generation.The current awareness campaigns only focus on the emotionel and health aspect, but this doesn’t seem to really hit them. However, many young people are concerned with how their lives will be in the future with regards to family and wealth, so focusing on the financial issue of the disease might be a way for them to understand. We will try it, and if it doesn’t change anything, we will alter our strategy, because our main goal is to make a change – no matter if that means varying our approach several times!
– I hope the girls follows her own advice, and stays safe!