The Arusha Times

Issue 00596

 Dec 5 - 12, 2009

issn 0856 - 9135 

Society

United in the fight against HIV/AIDS

By  Janaya Rockman

This year youth participation in the December 1 World AIDS Day activities was significant as young people from Arusha organizations and schools came out to do their part in raising awareness and decreasing stigma associated with HIV.

 A brass band and Chinese dragon created by Pallotti Community Center kicked off the celebrations by leading the way in a march of hundreds of people from Municipal to Stadium.

 Upon reaching the Stadium the marchers proceeded around the track to shouts and cheers as each group’s participation was acknowledged.  To celebrate a day designed to raise awareness of the seriousness of the worldwide AIDS pandemic, many HIV positive support groups also marched in the parade carrying banners proudly displaying their group name.

 Following the march, a ceremony was conducted which included speeches by a person living with HIV from ANEPHA+ support group and the Regional Commissioner, Isidore Shirima as the guest of honor.  Everyone also observed a moment of silence to remember those who have died of AIDS.  However, a highlight of the ceremony was the performances including several groups of young people.  The performances provided a forum for all groups to creatively express their feelings on this year’s theme: Universal Access and Human Rights. 

The theme highlights the essential link between universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and respect for human rights. Without addressing human rights, many of the populations most vulnerable to or living with HIV will lack access to prevention and treatment services.

Orkeeswa Secondary School in Monduli ended their dance by individually standing and proclaiming various slogans related to the theme.  “I am well. I am accepted. I am getting treatment. I am safe.  I am living my rights,” they boldly proclaimed.

 Five hundred and sixty students from the School of St. Jude-Moshono campus joined together to sing about the importance of being able to stand on their own two feet.  After which several students had a chance to convey their feelings about HIV.  A drama group of five students from Kimeseki Secondary School used a bit of humor to deliver a serious message: not being afraid of befriending and going to school with someone living with HIV. 

Students from other youth organizations such as Peace House Secondary School in Kisongo, OVC-Uhai group, Youth Wing, and Elerai, Edmond Rice, Oloirien, Bondeni, Arusha Sec, Uraki, Naura Secondary Schools also presented songs and dramas emphasizing human rights and acceptance of people living with HIV/AIDS.   

“The day showed that many Tanzanians are united in the fight against HIV including decreasing stigma and ensuring that those living with HIV are afforded the same rights as everyone else,” commented Mike Allard, HIV Program Advisor at Global Service Corps.   

Other entertaining events included a tug of war, chicken chase, and a football match between and HIV positive team and a team of journalists.

 

 


Palloti dragon
(Photo by Jenaya Rockman)

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