Tobias is a young Malawian boy, under 18 years of age. He lost both his parents at a tender age and had no one to take care of him apart from the part-time supervision of his aunt and uncle. Tobias’ young life has been at great risk from a poor peer group, pressurising his behaviour, smoking and drinking alcohol, insisting Tobias join their way of living. They know Tobias is in a relationship with Effie-whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS and have started discouraging him, adding that Tobias should get a good girl, instead of Effie.
During our in-country orientation on Malawian culture, the facilitator highlighted issues that lead to changes of behaviour in the youth. One of the factors affecting youth behaviour is peer pressure. During the April-June placement, we may need to learn something about the relationship between peer pressure and self esteem.
Tovwirane HIV/AIDS organisation (THAO) is one of Progressio’s partner organisations, located in the Northern part of Malawi, Mzimba district. THAO is focused on sexual and reproductive health and behaviour change. We are looking into working with peer groups, as this is vital in building up youth development.
On Friday, our group of volunteers visited Kavitowo Primary School, disseminating basic information about HIV/AIDS. The youth are actors in their own future development and our visit could mean that they are reached with facts to achieve change. At the end of our session, 5 pupils were chosen as peer educators, to work in their school and their localities.
In the film, one good thing that Tobias knew was that his parents had died of HIV/AIDS. This fact gave him a constructive mindset and built up his self esteem. He could stand by his morals and achieve his goal. He left the group, went back to Effie and openly disclosed about his family.
“If, in a family one dies of HIV/AIDS, it doesn’t mean the rest are HIV positive”.
By Paul Mvula-National In-country Volunteer, Malawi
Photo: 5 peer educators from Kavitowo Primary School with Tovwirane partner and a UK volunteer after the training session.