Youth, parents and even grandmothers came together for a day-long sports and culture fair in Nairobi’s Kibagare district hosted by Young Women Campaigning Against Aids (YWCAA), an NGO which focuses on HIV-AIDS prevention and advocacy.
The event, held January 27, was an opportunity for fun and games showcasing the group’s activities and handiwork, as well as an education day.
The day began with a gripping opening soccer match featuring grandmothers, guardians and parents of the girls, after which YWCAA’s team faced girls from other Nairobi teams, captivating all those present.
After winning teams were handed trophies, it was time for sensitization on drug abuse, Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights and HIV/AIDS. The active participation in the sessions showed clearly that the community both appreciated the information and wanted more.
“The event was a great success, with a higher turnout than we expected. The general public including the youth and adolescents were enthusiastic and actively participated during the question and answer sessions,” said Ms. Perez Abeka the group’s Executive Director.
Perez, who noted the personal growth of the girls within the organisation, commended several of them for their hard work, ambition and commitment to better themselves. It was the same commitment that propelled the formation of the organisation.
Working in bars helped shape the mindset of the early members of YWCAA who paid for their university education through part-time work as bar waitresses. This exposure opened their eyes to the socio-economic impact of HIV and the vulnerable nature of their work environment. Although the focus of the organisation was initially on bar waitresses, they’ve expanded their coverage to the youth, orphaned and vulnerable children and grandmothers.
The cultural extravaganza is the climax of a one-year project executed by YWCAA with funding from AWDF. The project seeks to use sports, culture and the creative arts as tools for prevention and advocacy on HIV/AIDS, and to serve as a means of empowerment for young women. The group’s participants benefit from an extensive mentorship program and training in various skills including dress making, bead work, beauty, hair dressing, drama and music.
YWCAA’s work continues to serve as an inspiration to the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and the world at large.