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Digital Diarist Chinyanta Chimba on HIV prevention in Zambia

UNICEF Image: Digital Diarist, Chinyanta Chimba, AIDS, Zambia
© UNICEF Zambia/2008
UNICEF Digital Diarist Chinyanta Chimba, 19, teaches HIV prevention in Zambia.

LUSAKA, Zambia, 10 September 2008 – Zambia has one of the highest HIV rates in the world.  Over 1 million Zambians carry the virus, and nearly one in 10 Zambians between the ages of 15 and 24 are living with HIV. 

Around the country, there is a massive ongoing effort to educate Zambia's young people about HIV prevention. Chinyanta Chimba, 19, is a participant in that campaign. For more than a year, she has been recording interviews with her friends, along with her own observations, for the Digital Diaries project of Voices of Youth (UNICEF’s online community for young people) and UNICEF Radio.

Chinyanta also works with Student Partnerships Worldwide (SPW), a youth-led non-governmental organization that places young people at the forefront of change and development. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the organization has set up an HIV/AIDS education programme in Zambia as well as a 'Teacher's AIDS Action Programme' in colleges. Every year, they train over 128 volunteer peer educators who work in schools and colleges.

‘Volunteers have empowered others’

SPW volunteers use non-formal education methods to conduct a variety of health and life-skills lessons through extracurricular programmes, community events and organized activities.

"Through their energy and enthusiasm, these volunteers have empowered others to make more informed decisions about their health and, crucially, reduce their vulnerability to HIV and AIDS," Chinyanta says.

UNICEF Image: Digital Diarist, Chinyanta Chimba, HIV, Zambia
© UNICEF Zambia/2008
Chinyanta talks with some of the younger girls at her school about preventing HIV.

Chinyanta spoke to several of her peers who had gone through SPW training. One eighth-grade boy talked about how the programme helped dissipate some of the stigma surrounding HIV. 

"I would like to encourage all those who do not attend the meetings of the club to start attending, because we talk more openly… about diseases and how we can prevent them," he told Chinyanta.

Changing behaviours

Chinyanta also visited a school where several of the younger girls worked with a programme called Girl Guides, which is affiliated with the Girl Scouts. The members of Girl Guides use creative techniques to bring their message of behaviour change and HIV prevention to the youngest girls. 

A third-grader named Rita described to Chinyanta the poems and songs her teachers used to teach them about the dangers of HIV.  She recited one poem to Chinyanta:

Wherever I go, I hear people saying ‘behaviour change’.
I sit back, try to understand what they really mean.
The more I think about it, the more I get confused.
I would really like to change, but I don't know what behaviour change is. 

With help from UNICEF and SPW, Chinyanta is working to clear up misconceptions about HIV and AIDS and help children like Rita understand how to start making life-saving changes now.




August 2008: Digital Diarist Chinyanta Chimba, 19, interviews young people in Zambia about HIV prevention.
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