It is emerging in our Magnet Theatre outreaches in the community that reduction of stigma and discrimination in the community is mirage. Stigma and discrimination needs a creative approach because it is affecting the fight against HIV from all angles. Giving out condoms in public is still a problem. During the outreaches young people take condoms in secrecy they don’t want to be seen by the community because the community will associate them with sexual intercourse.
Walking into a VCT centre for most young difficult because in one way or other they have had unprotected intercourse with a person of unknown STI status because of the stigma associated with free condoms given in public and buying a condom in the home shops. Most young people ask very many subspecies questions and concerns on VCT, HIV and AIDS. Why should I go for VCT while my partner is negative? There is no need for VCT while I know that am dying; in one way or another all of us will die so why waste my time going for VCT, why use a condom when we know that we are infected?
And when we carry out mobile VCT all of them who attend the sessions come out smiling and saying that they are ok. If condoms and VCT services are facing such tough stereotype at the community level what about access to reproductive health services by the youth. A good number of young people can not point out stigma and discrimination as community problem, but they acknowledge that there are some behaviors and attitudes that discriminate against people infected and infected.
In one of the magnet theatre session in Manyani the audience helped to condemn a behavior by one of the cast members acting as an HIV positive person. But with timeline a game used to elastrator the theatre process they agreed that they action against character could lead to many things including self stigma because of the enacted stigma from the community members.
In this picture some of the young people who were displaced after the violence in the camp waiting to here about the project and how it will help in the resettlement efforts.
After months of anticipation finally 3 weeks ago we received our 1st deposit of the grant and immediately the team went to work already we had potential young people from the community who were ready to take part in the project, we called them together and discussed on how we want to go ahead with the training as a kick start to the project, we have been deliberating and have agreed that we want to make the project as community-owned as possible. In the same breath we went to the community with the team and sought out views of different people in the community, including the government representatives on the ground.
As seen above, members of REPACTED are mobilizing community members for discussions while at the same time giving the community an important forum to discuss health issues that they would otherwise not discuss in there homes because of taboo.
We agreed that it is important to focus in the beginning with individual stories of community members who have been instrumental in ensuring that we have peace in our country at the community level and people don’t know about this will help in showing other that they too can help in ensuring that we have everlasting peace and we don’t go back to fighting. The methodology that we will use is by taking video and stories to the community and show them in the villages and the community places for people to see and we will focus on the worst hit areas of Nakuru hoping that the same can be replicated elsewhere in the country.
In this regard we are hoping to work with various institutions to make the project a success and have an impact not only to us but the whole community at large we will be focusing on the issue also of helping young people achieve there dreams in life. Especially in the enhancement of there use in digital equipment. This is the beginning of weekly updates of the project stay on. And kudos to Joan for updates every now and then.
In this photo is Laban, a member of REPACTED, talking to some of the young people in the community on issues affecting them and how they can address them or bring them out to the general public to be able to be assisted.