News

Johnson & Johnson and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launch a youth-led peer to peer empowerment to reduce HIV/Aids

5 May 2018
D Day: Youth to Youth Empowerment Launched

More than 1500 excited learners from schools in the surrounding area of uMlazi township in Kwa-Zulu Natal joined the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) Thina Abantu Abasha Youth Leadership Team for a fun- filled launch of the youth- led programme.  Thina Abantu Abasha” is Zulu for “We the youth” and is based on the premise that no action of empowering the youth should take place without the direct involvement of the youth. Supported by Johnson & Johnson, in partnership with the UNFPA the peer-to peer amplification programme launch took place on the cricket grounds of uMlazi ComTech High School in Durban on 4 May 2018. The DREAMS Thina Abantu Abasha (DTAA) programme, led by the Youth Leadership Team (YLT), is made up of six dynamic young people and aims to decrease the rate of HIV infection in three focus districts of eThekweni, uMgungundlovu and uMkhanyakude in KwaZulu-Natal. Later in the year it will be rolled out in two districts in Gauteng.

In between the lively artistic performances and music, the Youth Leadership Team shared their aim to reach an estimated 150 000 young people through peer-to peer engagement, focusing on empowering young people in the areas of Leadership, Employability and Sexual & Reproductive Health (SRH)- the three themes identified by youth as key empowerment drivers in preventing HIV/Aids. Taking into account that Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) account for 74% of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa, they informed the audience that the programme is targeted at adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years old, which made the school girls in the audience shout out in joy excitedly.

 

 

 

“As the Youth Leadership Team, we will work hard to ensure that our peers are not left behind, we aim to ensure that those with leadership skills and potential are exposed to opportunities to develop them further and young people at risk and most vulnerable to HIV/Aids are empowered through comprehensive sexual reproductive health programmes,” Mbali Ngubane said.

Ms. Alma Scott, Head of Operations and Partnerships, Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health acknowledged and thanked stakeholders on the success of the programme so far. In particular the Youth Leadership Team, “….it has been a steep learning curve for the YLT and I am proud of their progress- the event today is 100% a result of their hard work, both on the DTAA and the planning of the event. Hats off to you for your passion in addressing challenges which your peers face and taking it upon yourselves to help find solutions,” Ms. Scott said.

Supporting the DTAA youth- led initiative, Ms. Gertrude Matshimane, from the National Department of Health representing the She Conquers campaign, suggested that efforts to create synergy across all sectors and programmes working with young people and foster a targeted, and coordinated response must be intensified. She congratulated all those involved in the initiative, particularly the YLT who through perseverance and commitment made the launch of DREAMS Thina Abantu Abasha very successful!

 

As the proceedings were going on inside the marquee, outside, fully stocked exhibition stands displayed critical information on HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health and skills empowerment. By the time the launch was over, many of the stands were left empty, resulting in UNFPA and J&J actively empowering the young people of uMlazi with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to promote HIV prevention and SRH education!