Dear Readers and supporters of Vijana Amani Pamoja, I would like to invite you to read Vijana Amani Pamoja's latest newsletter attached to this message. Thanks for your continous support and enjoy reading..
For the last couple of weeks VAP has been working on adapting a new data system dubbed Scorecard. The system captures and tracks all details of program deliverance including: ages and genders of the participants, dates of program delivery, number of coaches and participants in attendance, activity conducted and the places of the program. The Scorecard is then uploaded into an online database called Sales force where VAP loads all of their programmatic data.
The Skillz Kenya program uses a Pre and Post survey to evaluate participants’ critical thinking, communication, self esteem, and decision making. The results of the survey should hopefully show massive changes in participants’ knowledge and attitudes about HIV/AIDS after they participate in the Skillz Kenya curriculum.
Field Office Operations
Since the acquirement of the new ground office, Operations have been streamlined efficiently with VAP coaches having easy access to program materials and enough room for their monthly monitoring and evaluation meetings. Additionally, due to the availability of enough working space, VAP volunteers can also access a place to work and easily mingle with the community around.
Global Bikes Donate Bikes to VAP
Global Bikes made a significant donation of 6 bikes to VAP. The donation of bikes will help VAP coaches move from program sites in a more efficient manner and will allow more children to benefit from the Skillz Kenya program. Global Bike has a simple mission: Use the transformative power of bikes to create positive social change in the developing world.
VAP Coaches Attend GTZ Youth Leadership Workshop
Two VAP coaches: Christine Atieno and Eligious Basil had an opportunity to attend a 5 day Youth training workshop organized by GTZ under the auspices of youth development football that commenced on 21st-25th March 2011. Amongst other organizations attending the workshop were: MYSA and MTG who were also represented by 2 young leaders respectively. The first 3 days training focused on effective ways of coaching young participants and the last 2 days focused intensively on leadership and management skills."The training I have received is so timely and I have gained a lot that would propel me, my fellow coaches my entire organization to make a real impact to the lives of the young participants that we work with.” Said Eligious Basil, VAP coach.
Opo is one of the coaches/peer educators that work with Vijana Amani Pamoja. Here he shares his inspiring story and why he wants to fight the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.
MY COACH’S STORY
Today I have this chance of reflecting and celebrating the life of the best friend I have ever had, the person who has shaped how I have viewed life since I was a young boy. Even though I did not get the chance to enjoy his company into adulthood the experiences I have had with him gave me a better understanding of what life is and how to relate to other people. These experiences, that I treasure so much, give me the extra energy that I, as a Skillz coach, need when I intervene and advocate for positive behavior change among my friends and young people in my community.
Dave (not real name) was a funny, energetic, and playful friend. He was full of games and he loved football very much. During my school holidays, travelling upcountry was the only thing in my mind. School holidays were the best times in my life, to date. I cannot remember having so much fun since those days—and the star of the show was Dave. Dave’s parents died when he was still a little boy. As I knew it then, his parents died from “the wrath of a strong wind” wiping out the entire village, they called the wind “Ayaki Matieka,” a Luo word for “the wind that finishes.” After his parents died, he was put under the custody of his uncle. We nicknamed Dave “Rivaldo,” a Legend of Brazilian and world soccer. Dave admired Rivaldo so much that whenever he scored a goal during our ‘World Cup’ (we had a rusty metal tea cup as our world cup trophy!) he ran all over the home with his shirt covering his face just as the Brazilian Rivaldo did whenever he scored.
We used to chase each other in the banana plantation as we kicked the banana trees pretending that they were our enemies. We admired the Kung-Fu masters from those Japanese films and we loved how they fought off their enemies with their special fighting styles—our favorite being the “Drunken Master” style. We pretended we were drunk and staggered as we walked like a drunkard and we threw kicks to the helpless banana trees. It was so much fun and we used to come home later from the “battle” at the banana plantation, with our feet hurting so badly!
Dave’s aunt was not kind to him. She used to beat him up for mistakes that were petty. I can’t forget the cries of pain when he was being beaten and he was always given very heavy and odd jobs to do. Despite Dave being sick (we were told that we were not supposed to be too close to him or share our food with him) I never, at any time, saw his aunt take him to hospital or see him take medicine. Even though Dave was performing well in school his parents decided to take him out of school—this I never understood. Despite all this harsh treatment he was undergoing, Dave still found the strength to make jokes and have fun. He still could play football with us and score goals with his powerful left foot that always brought our goal post down.
During my subsequent holiday visit, Dave’s health started to deteriorate, he became weak and he was always coughing so much that he even strained to breath. During this time, we were being told not to be near him and when we were seen around him we were punished. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t want us to be near him. Dave was our Hero. He was our Leader. He was our best friend and we were not asking for too much. We only wanted to be in his company. Dave died a painful death and even though his death didn’t mean much to many people, it was everything to us, his friends. Fun was no more, only memories of it.
To date, there is not one person who can convince me that it is the AIDS virus that killed Dave. Dave died as a result of the treatment he was subjected to by the people who were responsible for taking care of him—the society. If only we would all have shown real love to him, Dave would have lived long enough to see Brazil lift another World Cup. Rivaldo, his favorite player, was in the 2002 squad. What a joy that would have been for him.
We need not stigmatize our own people living with HIV: we are part of them, they are part of us and we can never live apart. They are human. We are human. We need not be inhuman to them. We are not immune from HIV. Some are born with the virus, some cannot escape its clutches, and the rest only need to make one misguided choice and we could also be infected. Though Dave was infected with HIV, I have been affected by it up to today as I have lost one of my best friends. We are neither far from being infected with HIV nor are we far from death. We all die eventually and it doesn’t matter whether you are HIV positive or not. The best we can do is support those who are positive as they battle with the virus. They are on our team and we need to put on our “Makarapas” and prepare our ”vuvuzelas” to go to the stadium of Humanity and cheer our home team versus HIV & AIDS. Neither can the virus stand the sound of the vuvuzelas of love we are blowing, nor can it defeat our team if we all come to the stadium. And if anyone asks you why we need to do this, pause for a moment and reply… WE ALL HAVE DREAMS TO ACHIEVE, WE ALL WANT TO REACH OUR FULL POTENTIAL, WE ALL NEED EACH OTHER, WE ALL NEED TO BE APPRECIATED AS WE ARE AND WE NEED CARE FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV BECAUSE IT IS IN OUR HUMAN NATURE TO CARE FOR EACH OTHER.
The only way we can stop stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS is to encourage those among us who have been able to bounce back and became successful in life despite being HIV-positive to come out of hiding and dispel the fear that there is no life but death after being infected. Let them appear and be a source of inspiration to those who have tested positive and have lost hope in life. PLWHA also need role models among them and when the world will realize that life—not death!–can come out of us after testing positive, the stigma subjected to our own people living with HIV will be reduced. We can do it. We have the power to do so. It is within our reach.
Dedicated to my friends, donors and our people living with HIV/AIDS
Now that the academic year has just started, the skillz Kenya gear has shifted from the community centres to the schools. Most of the schools undergoing through the program are new schools alongside few community centres whose programs are conducted during the weekend.Vijana Amani Pamoja has narrated a progress report attached to this message and we welcome you to read it..Enjoy!
WORLD’S AIDS DAY
On Dec 1, 2010 VAP in conjunction with Sports Connect a youth soccer organization based in Eastlands organized a soccer camp for under:14,18 and 20.The event was held at Buru Buru sports ground and VAP were at hand to conduct HIV/AIDS Skillz program. Amongst the Skillz conducted were: Find the ball, Risk field and Pressure limbo. These activities allow youth to explore issues relating to HIV/AIDS and gain necessary skills that lead to healthy lives. The skills are flavoured with critical thinking, communication, self-esteem and decision making amongst others.
ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR COMMUNITY CENTRES
After much concentration of delivering Skillz programs in schools, it’s now time to shift the gears and focus solely on community centres now that schools have closed for the festive holidays. With fresh information from the recent training of
coaches’ course, VAP is working with 5 new youth centres: sports connect, Mbotela foundation, shelter of hope, Madiwa city and Buru Buru sports academy as other community centres are just on the verge of their graduations.
VAP COACH GRADUATES AND LANDS ANOTHER SCHOLARSHIP TO PERSUE HER DEGREE COURSE AT UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY (USIU)
Through the sponsorship from For-Granted Inc one of VAP’s partners, Linda Kafwe a VAP coach has just graduated with a Diploma in catering from Unity College of professional studies. Linda Kafwa has been an excellent student who has been giving back her unwavering support and services to the community through VAP. Additionally, her tremendous college performance has earned her scholarship to pursue her degree course at United States International University (USIU).
The other For-Granted scholarship beneficiaries: Edwin Ochieng and David Oduor who are also VAP peer educators are still pursuing their journalism courses at East African school of Media Studies. The two have been so instrumental too and have been taking pivotal responsibilities within VAP including: newsletter development, video-shooting and photos. “Am so much grateful to all the donors who have been supporting VAP’s movement because it’s through my involvement as a peer educator for VAP that I have managed to achieve my dreams. Am also proud to continue serving our community through VAP.” Said Linda Kafwa. On behalf of Vijana Amani Pamoja,we would like to wish all of you who have been donating to our project a HAPPY NEW YEAR! .
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