RESULTS TO DATE:
90 Adolescent Mothers are fully involved in the programme
494 Adolescent Mothers and community members have attended HIV and stigma awareness sessions
196 Adolescent Mothers and community members have tested for HIV/STIs
8% of those tested for HIV/STIs have been people with disabilities
5,000 Information leaflets about sexual health and HIV have been distributed
The activity implementation of July was mainly focused on voluntary HIV testing, supply of contraceptives and training of Adolescent Mothers and the community. All this is a continuous series of planned activities of the project. We mainly trained on stigma reduction and gender equality knowledge in the community and the same topics were re-trained in the groups of AMs, after a request by these groups to have the same knowledge in a broader way for better understanding of the topics. This was a result of the impact of knowledge gained by the AMs during last month and also to put more emphasis on ending stigma and gender inequality amongst the participants and community at large, which is likely to reduce gender based violence and domestic violence in homes of the beneficiaries. The Act4Africa training manual was used to guide all trainings and several fun games were applied during the training.
The voluntary HIV and other STI outreach in the community was based on a theme of zero HIV through knowing your status, which was generated by the A4A team. We encouraged many people to come and test especially the married couples to come with their partners. The turn up was so encouraging and it is from here that we also passed on basic HIV knowledge and condom demonstration to participants. The testing exercise also included pre-test and post counselling session. The community trainings and HIV testing information was given on a public address system that helped us to reach many people, even those in the nearby areas/ by passers.
We supplied condoms to both adult males and females, including the married couples who turned for the testing and training exercise, and also education leaflets were given to the participants.
Most of the training discussions were centred on stigma, condom use and gender equality, to create a broad way of understanding of knowledge related to the topics among the participants. Both self and social stigma and the feeling it creates were discussed. Different games were used to enhance the understanding - Stop Go, Simon Says, Who Can I Tell it and Cat & Mouse were involved in the training. Here participants were encouraged to pass the knowledge gained, especially in their homes, such that stigma and gender inequality can be fought and ended for both men and women to live in an equal rights society.
The project is greatly registering achievements especially in areas of meeting the targeted AMs numbers as primary beneficiaries and the community as well. It is impacting lives of the beneficiaries by creating change in behaviour and ways of living. This was revealed through the Focus Group Discussions held in July and also individual Case Studies. The changed mind-set of beneficiaries to use condoms as a way protecting against HIV/AIDS and other STIs and unwanted pregnancies, the need for people to come and test for HIV, and also the testimonies given by the participants regarding change in ways of living and how they are treated by husbands, greatly shows the positive impact. Therefore the project is impacting lives of people and we hope this change will continue to happen as the project moves on.
Case Study 1
Geneva is a young mother now aged 14 years and a victim of stigma that led to dropping out of school. She is a beneficiary of the AM project, which has empowered her. Geneva dropped out of school after developing a skin disease that many of her friends and people in general related to symptoms of HIV/AIDS because her body had lots of scars and scabs with an unusual skin rash. Her friends isolated her and stopped playing with her and the situation became worse when no one was willing to even touch her books, pens or anything of hers at school. This situation forced her out of school and to stay at home, but still some of her relatives isolated her, which made her life desperate at that time. After a long stay at home she would no longer go back to school because of feeling inferior. While she was out of school Geneva was unfortunately impregnated and this meant her future end with education. The added situation being pregnant kept her even more in isolation and hiding in the house from the public. She felt extremely lonely and useless at that time. But now with AM training from Act4Africa with her group, Geneva feels there is no reason why someone should be stigmatised or accept being stigmatised by others just because of rumours and grapevine information. Geneva now feels more empowered and that if she had a chance to go back to school she would take it on. She is encouraging others to always challenge stigma and for people to stop stigmatising others.
“We should love and support each other regardless of our social and health status”, said Geneva as she ended her story.
Case Study 2
Lorene is a young mother now aged 17 years and a victim of gender based violence which affected her studies and resulted in her dropping out of school at the early age of 13. She is a beneficiary of the AM project.Lorene narrated her story about gender based violence resulting from gender inequality and how she feels after the training.
Lorene dropped out of school while in Primary 7. This was as a result of her parents, who were not educated and who told her that she should stop schooling because women are meant for marriage. The father also wanted a bride price. Lorene insisted that she should stay at school but the parents could not be defeated of their idea. They told her that by birth she was meant to be a native/witch doctor since the spirits of her ancestors had chosen to work through her to make revelations to her family members. At this point the father refused to pay for her education and she stopped going to school. After 2 years of doing domestic work at home, because she was the only girl, being laughed at, scorned and isolated by parents and her brothers, which tortured her psychologically and never gave her any peace, she finally got a boyfriend. He was a Boda Boda rider who impregnated her and they now stay together at the parents-in-law home.
She is proud that this project has opened up her mind and has empowered her to know her rights, roles and responsibilities as a woman in a home and community at large. She feared her entire life to be tested for HIV because she knew that in the case of a positive result she would be blamed by her husband and the entire family for the disease. Lorene is happy now however, as she convinced her husband to test as a couple and she can now negotiate use of a condom without any blame.
“I thank GLOBAL GIVING and ACT4AFRICA for this program and I request that it should reach more girls in other communities”, said Lorene, as she ended her story.
The project intends to continue reaching more community members for sensitization, condom supply and HIV testing & counselling, training AMs in other life skills topics and also giving them some practical skills.Regardless of challenges that we are managing to overcome, ACT4AFRICA, with the support from GLOBAL GIVING, is so grateful about the change in lives of young mothers, and the expected change in future, achieved by the implementation of this project. We hope to see more achievements from the activities of this project and we hope to reduce the rate of young mothers from becoming sex workers and being victims of stigma and gender injustices.