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Zambia’s youth is the country’s future, but the present situation is, that a large part of these will die of AIDS at a very young age. The disease is still subject to a lot of taboos, and rarely discussed openly. Because of this many students live in ignorance, with misguided stories of how to avoid or cure the disease. The School Mission encourages the students to take a determined responsibility for their own lives, but also dares to open the discussion, and spread openness and healthy attitudes among their friends.
In many schools, different groups of students have started on an initiative, due to a School Mission leader. The groups have different activities, but they have in common that they gather to discuss problematic issues regarding HIV/AIDS and other moral and behaviour related subjects. These groups are used as a starting point for teaching and information, which spreads to the rest of the students in the school through discussions, dance, drama, music etc. Many students are pro-active, have their own attitude to the problem, and show a lot of effort to spread the information and attitude to other students.
Ndeke High School is one of the places, where they have gathered a group around a HIV/AIDS-programme. Njamu Simon Mutale, leader of Dreamteam, tells about the project:
”This programme was started back when there was a lot of discrimination regarding HIV/AIDS, it was taboo. In the beginning it was difficult for us, but when people discovered the influence of the disease, they started to appreciate the programme. We started as the Anti-AIDS-club, but decided to change the name to Dreamteam, which made many curious – are you a football club, or what are you doing?
Our programme reaches out to 2500 students, and since our start we have seen a reduction in the number of pregnancies, and even subjects such as alcohol and drugs are now openly discussed.”
¹ Voluntary Counselling and Testing. People go voluntarily in counselling about HIV/AIDS, after which they take a test to check whether or not they have the disease.
Dare Disciples is another of these groups. The participants come from many different schools, to which the School Mission leader Gideon is attached. Every Saturday they gather for an HIV/AIDS related discussion with different questions, but also to share the challenges they get by sharing their attitudes with their fellow students. In this way it is not only Gideon teaching at the school, but Dare Disciples take their own initiative to spread the information at the school.
Tom Kasanda is a School Mission leader, but at the same time a musician and entertainer. He has won access to many schools in Kitwe, and uses his singing, music and dancing to catch the students’ attention. Dancing and music groups have started on his initiative, in which many students are involved.