Written by Anthony Aisi
Fifty four groups in Kenya ‘s informal settlements gearing up HIV and AIDS advocacy to make their areas a better living place.
It all started from a 'merry-go-round' in 2002 with an initiative to facilitate economic empowerment through contribution and loaning facility to its members little by little accelerating its pace to zero rating HIV in the society.
The organization has established and empowered 54 youth groups from Kibera, Mukuru, kawangware and Kibagare slums, four Bar Waitresses and two grandmother support groups.
Marking their 10 years anniversary, the groups celebrated the grandmothers who have flipped the tide in the fight against HIV/AIDS by actively taking the responsibility of a mother, father and guardian despite being physically weak.
The anniversary also indicated how they have sensitized and conducted capacity building on basic entrepreneurship to total of 130 bar waitresses/grandmothers and supported 72 of their dependents with information on HIV and AIDS.
The population of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) has grown at alarming rate recently due to HIV/AIDS pandemic, the young women campaign against AIDS organization(YWCAA) aims at strengthening the capacity of families and households to care for OVC within the community as the key strategic response in addressing the situation
Victor Apolo, programme manager at YWCAA echoed how youth-to-youth activities has sensitized youth and most at risk population on sexual behaviour change.
" We have held activities in the informal settlements including talent shows, concerts, popular drama, inter group debates based on HIV/AIDS topics, speaking competitions, youth challenge meetings and football matches, we have used what the society like so as to seek their attention and boost our outreach."
" We have also distributed contraceptives to the youths in the informal places using the youth groups so as to reach more people. This has been received warmly by the MARPS and other youths after creating awareness on the importance of using condoms in relation to HIV spread. We aim to open our scope not only in Nairobi, Makueni and Kisumu but also to other counties in Kenya," Apolo added
According to YWCAA, girls out of school and would love to go to school or undertake tertiary courses are now being targeted.
The organization will work with ministry of Education to establish means of assistance to schooling of poor persons.