In December 2015 Tariro successfully hosted “A Cultural Retreat and Showcase for HIV/AIDS Awareness” under the theme, Zero, Our New Hero, aimed at youth aged 14-23 from Harare. Made possible by a grant received from the Society of the Celtic Cross, the retreat enabled Tariro to create a safe space for dialogue and experiential sessions, with the assistance of experienced and local facilitators in the field of HIV/AIDS. Through these educational and awareness building sessions, the participants were not only the recipients of this rare opportunity for open discussion and education, but will continue to help in of the ongoing fight against the HIV/AIDS crisis which continues to impact Southern Africa at an alarming rate.
According to recent information by the PANOS Institute Africa (PSaF), girls between 15 and 19 years old account for 71% of new infections, indicating that a significant number of our beneficiaries fall within this target group. Tariro’s beneficiaries have lost parents and guardians to the disease. The chosen theme, Zero Our New Hero, was derived from the theme of the 2015 International World AIDS Day commemorations: ‘getting’ to zero in three ways:
- Zero new HIV infections
- Zero AIDS-related deaths in Southern Africa
- Zero stigma and discrimination
The retreat hosted 31 girls between the ages of 14-23 from high-density areas of Harare (Epworth, Glen Norah and Highfield). Under the facilitation of Reverend Nyarumwe from the Anglican Church, and staff from the Transformative Youth Development Association- a Harare school based organization for youth empowerment- the girls participated in activities including songs, poetry, dialogue, storytelling and drama that explored the many HIV/AIDS-related challenges facing the girls and their communities.
Specifically, Reverend Nyarumwe led participants in discussions ranging from the causes and affects of HIV, his experience with HIV/AIDS in the church regarding discrimination, and safe sex practices. The facilitators from the Transformative Youth Development Association led the students through various activities, incorporating the arts with dialogue regarding HIV/AIDS. Topics covered were the importance of testing, disclosure of one’s status, and the importance of medication for those infected. Importantly, the girls were able to personalize the workshops by talking about how to deal with infected people, how to socialize and stem stigma arising from the community, how to deal with negative cultural practices that fuel HIV/AIDS and how to prolong the life of someone infected with the disease.
This was an incredible learning experience for all involved, and Tariro is grateful to the facilitators who were adept at engaging the participants in a dialogue that built on their current understanding while addressing gaps in knowledge. We believe the girls were positively impacted and will act as ambassadors in their communities.
Thank you (Tatenda!) to our facilitators and to the Celtic Cross Mission Society for the opportunity to positively impact our beneficiaries so they can carry on this vital work!