The AGYW activation was held at Nkhaba iNkundla on the 23 August 2019. Welcoming remarks were given by the iNkhundla secretary who praised the work which Young Heroes was bringing to the community and the good working relationship which they shared over the year. She encouraged all young people that they should take what they learnt from Young Heroes and put it into practice as they were counting on them to be tomorrow’s future leaders.
Young Heroes (programs & project officer) also shared their gratitude towards Nkhaba’s AGYW for attending the sessions. They also congratulated those who would be awarded certificates of completion and also stressing that the event went beyond the certification, as it was also a chance for others to learn about the program, learn about health information and services available and also be encouraged to join Stepping Stones.
Stepping Stones Experience
Nonduduzo Simelane (19), shared how she learnt about early pregnancy and different contraception methods to prevent young people from having unwanted pregnancies. She also learnt about PrEP and PEP. She described PrEP as a drug taken 28 days before sex to prevent HIV infection, whilst PREP could be taken for HIV prevention after having unprotected sex.
Nkhaba Clinic nurse also praised Young Heroes by saying that there has been a significant increase of young people seeking health services especially around Sexual Reproductive Health. She mentioned that this was a good thing as it was no secret that young people are engaging in sex and therefore they had a right to access SRH services. However, she appealed to young people to engage in safe sex by remaining consistent in using condoms as the rate of HIV infections amongst young people was still very alarming. Health services available on the day included HIV testing services provided by AHF as well as condom distribution by Young Heroes.
The Swaziland Youth Enterprise Revolving Fund (YERF) was also invited to share with graduates about youth opportunities available for them within the fund. The youth fund aims to assist young people to develop themselves economically, by providing capital to young people seeking to start their own businesses. It has a rigorous application procedure, and funds individuals with up to E50 000 with no need for collateral. However, what was delaying most young people from receiving the fund is not thinking out of the box in terms of business ideas. Nkhaba youth were encouraged to explore unique business opportunities to stand a better chance at funding. Application forms were left at the iNkhundla for those who wished to apply.
There was a stand-up comedy by the much loved Gedlembane who kept the audience laughing their lungs out as he rendered jokes around HIV prevention. A dance group also entertained the audience with music and dance.
The Honourable member of parliament for the Nkhaba constituency presented certificates to those who had completed the sessions. He encouraged young people not to define having fun by engaging in reckless behavior, indulging in alcohol and unprotected sex but rather work on making a better future for themselves through the various health and economic resources that were presented.
What some graduates had to say about Stepping Stones.
Takangwane Dlamini (22)
From the Nkhaba area
“Stepping Stones taught young people how to carry themselves in a good manner and how to live their lives positively free from HIV. It also taught us how to be clean and keep good hygiene. S.S taught the value of saving money to help you in the uncertain future. I would recommend Stepping Stones to other young people as it received free of charge and is beneficial to the life of any young person.”
Gcebile Dlamini (24)
From Nkomati, Lugaganeni
“Through S.S I now know how HIV is transmitted amongst people. I also know how to protect yourself from HIV infection and others from getting infected if you are living with the virus. Also learnt about the different types of Sexual Transmitted Infections and how having unprotected sex increases your chances of being infected with STIs. I would encourage all young people to join Stepping Stones as they provide us with a great amount of information including knowing your HIV status and knowing where to reach for help.”
IGNITE is a social media program that targets adolescents and young people through various social media networks including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our initiative is to create platforms where the youth is empowered to access HIV prevention information and services, and make informed decisions about their lives. IGNITE is part of the Global Fund project, granted through CANGO ,which aims to halt the spread of HIV and reverse its impact on the Swazi society by targeting youth aged 15–24 years who are out of school or in college.
The Ignite social media engagement strategy has created platforms where adolescents and young people are continuously empowered to access health services, make informed decisions and increase their participation in HIV prevention programs.