Ernest - Malawi
A SERIES OF INTERVIEWS WITH YOUNG PEOPLE FOR WORLD DEVELOPMENT INFORMATION DAY 2013
For World Development Information Day 2013, AVERT interviewed a selection of young people from around the globe, getting them to reflect on the HIV/AIDS development challenges in their country.
As supporters of AVERT’s Get Plugged In campaign, our interviewees are part of a network of well-informed young people, aged 18-25, that explore HIV and AIDS issues in our private Get Plugged In forum.
The UN theme for World Development Information Day, celebrated annually on October 24th, concentrates on: “Improving the dissemination of information and the mobilisation of public opinion, particularly among young people…”
Applying this theme to HIV and AIDS, we asked our Get Plugged In members how technology improves access to HIV/AIDS information and awareness of HIV/AIDS development challenges.
See all interviews below.
Ernest's organisation, Umunthu Foundation, creates awareness of HIV and AIDS in schools and in the local community. Umunthu holds weekly meetings with young people to do HIV prevention work in schools and in the community. They also support people living with HIV in the community. Ernest's role as a peer educator is to discuss and have debates to raise awareness of HIV prevention and harmful behaviour among young people. They also do this through text messages, chatting and social media to let young people know where to get information.
Umunthu offers counselling services for young people and encourages them to join clubs so they can work together, access information about HIV and AIDS and help young people affected. They also involve young people in sports like volleyball (there is a volleyball ground at Umunthu’s offices) and encourage young people to use the Umunthu library to access information about HIV and AIDS.
Most young people are not connected to HIV and AIDS programmes and don’t have access to information. There is a problem of inadequate funding to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and a lack of actors to involve young people in HIV awareness. There is also the issue of illiteracy – I think the best way to reach young people who are illiterate with information is through radio and drama plays.
Communication of information through technology is effective as it’s quick and fast. There are some challenges of access in Malawi, but using technology can help to reach a lot of people. The most effective ways are through radio and mobile phones, particularly for young people. Technology is developing in Malawi and more people are getting access to the internet so it is particularly important for young people to find information about HIV and AIDS this way.
Poverty is the biggest challenge in Malawi. For young people more effective facilities are needed to give professional and educational support. If people can’t economically support themselves they cannot protect themselves.
Gender inequality is also a really big challenge here. Giving information to women and girls about their human rights and sexual rights is really important. Young women need to be empowered with information about HIV transmission as they are often in situations at risk. For example, some girls have to go into prostitution to support themselves.
Political instability is an issue and we must empower young people with a voice to advocate.
In terms of hard to reach groups, I think we need to encourage them to come out and access information.
Having access to information is a really good way to empower people, such as young women having information about sexual health rights to protect themselves.
This piece forms part of a collection of inspiring and insightful interviews. 'Reflections on the Epidemic' , a series of interviews from young people for World Development Information Day 2013, tap into the opinions and perspectives of young people on HIV and AIDS from four regions across the globe.
All opinions expressed in 'Reflections on the Epidemic' do not necessarily represent those of AVERT.