Zambia: Supporting Youth-Initiated AIDS Awareness Programs

HIV/AIDS is a serious issue in the Republic of Zambia, where 13.5% of the adult population is HIV positive, and as many as 45,000 people die from AIDS every year. To prevent the spread of HIV, education is vital. AAR Japan has been supporting young people who participate in HIV/AIDS awareness programs as part of our ongoing effort to counter HIV/AIDS in Zambia.

Supporting Students: Anti-AIDS Clubs

In accordance with a government initiative, anti-AIDS clubs are being established at every school in Zambia. Students in these clubs are learning about HIV/AIDS on their own initiative, and carry out awareness efforts to spread information in their area. However, the students do not always have the most accurate information themselves, and uncertainty regarding how best to conduct such efforts renders many clubs unable to fully achieve their objectives.

In 2009, AAR Japan started a support program in the area of Chipapa, which lies on the outskirts of the capital, Lusaka. When we first arrived, the local club was struggling. AAR Japan educated the students about HIV/AIDS and encouraged them to discuss how best to convey their knowledge to others. We  provided basic guidance on conducting effective awareness programs, such as  introducing a ‘planning, implementation, evaluation’ style of thinking, effective presentation skills, and management know-how.

As a result, the club’s students have deepened their own awareness of the problems being faced, and have turned this knowledge into ambition for their efforts, expanding their program to visiting residential houses to speak on the subject, and holding debate meetings. With the club’s activities going well, AAR Japan is taking this chance to propose new initiatives, such as nurturing leaders in the lower primary school grades and strengthening links with local residents’ groups in order to ensure that the students are able to carry on the work under their own power.

December 1st, 2011 – On AIDS day, an anti-AIDS club comes together to hold an AIDS awareness event in Chipapa.

Supporting Awareness Events to Coincide with Zambia’s HIV Test Promotion Day

In Zambia, June 30th is a day promoting HIV testing, and people are encouraged to undergo basic testing along with counseling by nurses. Nonetheless, the number of people who undertake the test remains low—a factor contributing to the ongoing spread of HIV.

In Lukamantano School in the Chipapa area, the anti-AIDS club decided to hold an awareness event on June 30th. The event was held in collaboration with a group of nurses who visit the area to tackle the problem of AIDS.

One week before the event, the club’s students conducted door-to-door visits in the local area. The students had all received training from AAR Japan regarding HIV testing and the most effective methods for implementing door-to-door visits. During their visits, the students posed questions regarding the residents knowledge about or experience with HIV testing, as well as promoting the availability of simple testing at the upcoming event.

June 23rd, 2012 – “To help prevent the spread of infection, it’s important to first check yourself.”  Students promote HIV testing during a door-to-door visit. The girls in yellow t-shirts are members of the anti-AIDS club.

On the day of the event, a group of local people offered a hand in setting up the tent in which HIV testing would be conducted. The students danced and sang around the tent, inviting people to take the test. The door-to-door promotion had proved effective, and a surprising 93 people turned up to take the test. A play performed by the visiting nurses highlighted the problem of prostitution, and the students recited a poem advocating the benefits of HIV testing. The attendees were informed as to the sources of infection and methods of prevention, testing and treatment. Contraceptives were handed out to those interested. The event finished as a great success.

June 23rd, 2012 – On the day of the event, contraceptives and pamphlets outlining key information about HIV/AIDS were distributed to interested parties.

June 30th, 2012 – Outside the testing tent, club members recite poems advocating the tests.

June 30th, 2012 – Inside the testing tent. Once a finger is disinfected, a needle is used to draw and collect a sample of blood. The results are ready in 20 minutes.

In Chipapa, Accurate Information About HIV is Spreading

After the conclusion of the event, we spoke with the anti-AIDS club members in Lukamantano School. Rhoda (15 years old) took an active part in the event, singing, dancing, and reciting poems. She told us, “I wanted to learn more about HIV/AIDS. By conducting these awareness events, I’ve learned a lot about things such as how to prevent HIV/AIDS myself.
We asked another club member, Maria (13 years old), about her opinion of the HIV/AIDS problem in the area. She replied,Lots of people are now aware of how to check for and prevent infection. I think our club’s efforts have helped, and things are slowly getting better.

June 30th, 2012 – The anti-AIDS club members at Lukamantano School, including Rhoda (front row, second from left, 15 years old) and Maria (back row, third from right, 13 years old), with Moeko NAGAI of AAR Japan’s Zambia Office (front row, first on left).

In addition to these efforts, AAR Japan is currently building a facility in Chipapa where HIV testing and counseling can be conducted. We hope that the clubs’ ongoing efforts will spur residents to undertake HIV testing on their own initiative.

These efforts are being carried out with Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in addition to your heartfelt donations.

AAR Japan Zambia Office: Moeko NAGAI
After graduating university, worked in the pediatric ward of a general hospital. Worked as a kindergarten nurse in Japan after studying linguistics in America. After joining AAR Japan, provided assistance during the Great East Japan Earthquake. Stationed in Zambia since May 2012.