During week four we planned to visit secondary schools to carry out several awareness campaigns. We decided to base them on the theme of Valentine’s Day. The idea was that we could talk about peer pressure surrounding relationships and how to practice safe sex.

We managed to visit three schools in the traditional authority Kasisi and Katunga areas. The schools were Mthumba Community Day Secondary, Mfela Community Day Secondary and Dzumila Community Day Secondary. In all three schools we discussed issues such as peer pressure, sexual reproductive health rights, relationships and safe sex and the importance of focusing on one’s education. 

The head teacher from Dzumila said to us during his closing remarks; “You have come at the right time and keep on doing this; this is a good thing for the students”.

The deputy head master also wanted us (ICS volunteers) to explain our academic backgrounds and talk a little bit more about what we have done to be where we are today. I, James Hardson, come from a village family. I did my secondary education at one of the schools we visited, (Mthumba). I finished my secondary school in 2012. This helps the students to build confidence because their village mate made it!

In addition to that, students were also very happy and interested with the way that Esnart Mbandambanda (COWLHA field officer) introduced herself and disclosed her HIV status to the group.

Dzumila’s deputy headmaster commented after Esnart’s introduction, “we were just hearing about you on the radio, mum!!!!! Keep on doing this because without people like you many people would have died but disclosing your HIV status brings hope and encourages other to be open. You are indeed doing a good job to fight for the rights of women and girls living with HIV/AIDS. These students have heard it for themselves, it’s up to them to spoil their future or not”.

Author: James Hardson

Photography: Amy Stops