AIDS Education: Widows & Orphans Speak
In the villages of Nyanza Kenya, HIV/AIDs have robbed hundreds of thousands of children of their parents.
Why HIV/AIDs Education?
Each year there are more and more new HIV infections in Kenya , which shows that people either aren't learning the message about the dangers of HIV, or are unable or unwilling to act on it. Many people in Africa as a whole are dangerously ignorant about the virus, with surveys around the world showing alarmingly low levels of awareness and understanding about HIV amongst many groups. Education can help to overcome such ignorance, and thereby prevent HIV infections from occurring.
Education needs to be an ongoing process, because each generation of young people need to be informed about how they can protect themselves from HIV as they grow up. Older generations, who have already hopefully received some AIDS education, may need the message reinforced, so that they continue to take precautions against HIV infection, and are able to inform younger people of the dangers.
There are three main reasons for AIDS education:
1. To prevent new infections from taking place
This can be seen as consisting of two processes: firstly, giving people information about HIV and AIDS, such as how they are transmitted and how people can protect themselves from infection. Secondly, people must be taught how to put this information to use and act on it practically - how to get and use condoms, how to suggest and practice safer sex, how to prevent infection in a medical environment or when injecting drugs.
2. To improve quality of life for HIV positive people
Too often, AIDS education is seen as being something which should be targeted only at people who are not infected with HIV in order to prevent them from becoming infected. When AIDS education with HIV positive people is considered at all it is frequently seen only in terms of preventing new infections by teaching HIV+ people about the importance of not passing on the virus. An important and commonly-neglected aspect of Aids education and HIV positive people is enabling and empowering them to improve their quality of life. HIV positive people have varying educational needs, but among them are the need to be able to access medical services and drug provision and the need to be able to find appropriate emotional and practical support and help.
3. To reduce stigma and discrimination
In Kenya there is a great deal of fear and stigmatization of people who are HIV positive. This fear is too often accompanied by ignorance, resentment and ultimately, anger. Sometimes the results of prejudice and fear can be extreme, with HIV positive people being rejected, and many families being forced to leave their homes when neighbors discover a family-member's positive status. Discrimination against positive people can help the AIDS epidemic to spread, because if people are fearful of being tested for HIV, then they are more likely to pass the infection to someone else without knowing.
Who Needs to be Educated about AIDS?
Anyone who is vulnerable to AIDS - and almost everyone is vulnerable, unless they know how to protect themselves. It's not only young people, injecting drug users or gay men who become infected - the virus has affected a cross-section of society. This means that education ought to be aimed at all parts of society, not only those groups who are seen as being particularly high-risk. For instance, there may be a lot of AIDS education aimed at young people, but very little that targets adults, and this may lead to a rise in HIV infection rates amongst older age-groups. The people who are most urgently in need of HIV education are those who think they're not at risk.
In 1987 in the UK, a leaflet about AIDS was delivered to every household, and the government also launched a major advertising campaign with the slogan "AIDS: Don't Die of Ignorance" This is an example of non-targeted education, or rather, education with a very broad target, intended to blanket the whole population. To plan an effective AIDS education strategy with smaller sections of the population, it helps to know the characteristics of the group who are to be educated. It is possible to identify three distinct groups of people who require targeted education:
~ People who have not yet been educated and may be at risk of becoming infected.
This usually means young people, who need to know the risks involved in unsafe sex and drug use before they are old enough to find out for themselves.
~ People who have already been educated for whom the education was not effective.
If AIDS education were completely effective, there wouldn't be nearly so many new infections. These infections do not only occur amongst young people - many people who have already experienced AIDS education continue to become infected with HIV.
"A few months after we started having unprotected sex, I fell gravely ill. . . I recovered slowly but . . . I guess the warning signs have been there since I fell sick earlier this year, I'm educated on HIV and some of my symptoms literally had the warning bells ringing inside my head. Still, the shock of discovering my status is something I will never wish on my worst enemy." Euince Orwa Maisha Widow
~ People who are already infected.
Initially, this must involve an element of counseling and support, and must teach them how about living well with HIV, the tests they may need to have, and the medications they may need to take. They must also learn about HIV transmission and safer sex, for two reasons - they need to know how to live positively without passing the virus on to anyone else, and they need to know how to avoid coming into contact with a strain of the virus that differs from the one they are already have.
On top of this, everyone needs to learn how and why not to discriminate against positive people. People who are not HIV positive must learn about how the virus is transmitted in order that they are able to protect themselves from infection. At the same time, they must also learn how the virus is not transmitted
. People need to know that they cannot become infected from things such as sharing food, towels or toilets. This will help to reduce discrimination against positive people by reducing ignorance and fear of HIV.
Orphans and Widows at Maisha Orphanage speak
How you can to be involved.
|"I was deeply sad, my children dying of AIDS and leaving me with their children." And I am blind |
Cares for 10 grandchildren
|"We should remember that the process of losing parents to HIV/AIDS for the children often includes the pain and the shame of the stigma and the fear that the disease carries in most of our societies." |
A widow at Maisha in Kisumu Kenya
|It (AIDS) has left very many orphans. It has left very many widows. So there's a very big challenge over the HIV. But the most one is orphans. And bringing these children up becomes very, very difficult. Most of them cannot even go to school. Most of them cannot even go to health centers, because they don't have the cash...for treatment. So most of them die."|
Maisha orphanage caregiver
|"The most important thing when a child loses a father or mother is to give him or her supports in life....We want to educate these children so they can get a better future when they grow up. Because they are actually orphans, and, when we leave them just that way, where will they land? So we have to get them an education, so we prepare them for their future."|
Maisha orphanage Cook, Kisumu Kenya
|My name is Felix Omondi. I am eleven year old. I have two sister and three brothers. My mother is called Jane. My father is Eric. My parent was teachers but they went to be with the Lord. But God has given me a place where I live with Joy. I stay like a child who have parent but is cared for by mama Grace and the workers at Maisha orphans and widows.|
I am in Std. Five. I work hard in class. I also respect my teachers. I like Mathematics and football. I love my friend and enemies. My friend is a called Roland. I like telling stories.
Goodbye. God Bless You.
By Felix Omondi , 11 years Old
Maisha Orphanage child
|My name is Anna. I live in Maisha home. I am in std five. I am 10 years old. I love maisha because I eat. We are family here. One day I will come there in America to visit you. I like to read cook and play. I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I like Science better in my class. We have 55 students in my class, 4 are in Maisha. Tomorrow I will wake up and then I go to school. My teacher is called Mr Odundo. Please I would like to tell you some kiswahili:|
I love you-nakupenda
Anyone interested in participating in this program needs to contact their local Red Cross and undergo an AIDS Instructor training course. For Red Cross locations in your area please visit one of the following: http://www.redcross.org/where/where.html