Anything that is sharp can be life threatening
It is not an easy task to explain to young people that they need to be responsible, and always protect themselves against HIV- all the more so when access to both protection and reliable information is limited. With help from Chigwirizano activists, orphan children at Nhaacamba School have gained knowledge and confidence about what HIV and AIDS are, and how to stay safe. They can now share these assets with their peers.
Fifteen-year-old Flor Costa is getting her hair braided by a friend, Aida Juliana. They are both 15, and are Grade 5 students at Nhaacamba School in Changara district. Flor exudes confidence when she explains, "If the man will not use protection, you will have to say no!" Her friends around her agree-it is important to protect oneself against HIV, and the responsibility always lies with both partners.
Fernanda Rosa Gaviao, an activist from the NGO Chigwirizano, has been working with the young people at Nhaacamba school for two years. They meet, talk and prepare theatre shows that explain the various risks. "It is very important to explain to children, early on, how to protect themselves against infection. This is a job that I believe will save many lives."
The children that Chigwirizano works with are mostly orphans, and Flor is one of them. The School Awareness Programme for HIV Prevention inspires children to make their voices heard in various ways, teaching them about the importance of HIV and AIDS prevention. The most appreciated feature is the theatre shows. "The work we do here has many different parts, but we always try to remind the children and keep the dialogue on HIV and AIDS going. The children like the theatre shows; they lead to discussion, and there are always many questions," Ms. Gaviao explains.
Flor talks about the different ways one can contract HIV. "It is not only by not using protection," she says. "Everything involving blood can be dangerous; you can never share the same razor or needle with anybody. It can be expensive to get your own, but everything that is sharp can be life threatening."
As an aspiring professor, Flor says that she would like to remind her students about the dangers of HIV: "I would teach them everything I know, it will be my responsibility." She would like to stay in Nhaacamba to teach; "This is my community, I belong here," she says.