It has been several months since the young people received their comprehensive peer education training, so it was important to get the students together to refresh their knowledge and skills so they felt ready for World AIDS Day and other outreach activities over the coming months. Haja and Pierri from the Safidy team led an activity packed workshop where the students practiced their peer education skills whilst recapping the main information they will be sharing.
The young people became the first of the school's students to own the new Safidy notebooks, with their covers full of sexual health information and advice on the project's five main themes (HIV/AIDS, STIs, reproductive health, family planning and relationships/gender).
The students were then set the challenge of leading small practice workshops based on the information from the notebooks. This proved to be a great way of not only reminding everyone about the main facts and messages but also for them to practice communicating this in an engaging and accessible way. The students were also brilliant at giving honest and helpful feedback to one another on content, verbal communication style and body language, with our experienced staff on hand to offer further support.
This workshop and other meetings throughout November were focussed on preparing the students in the build up to World AIDS Day on 1st December. For several years Azafady has been involved with local celebrations and this year provided a perfectly-timed opportunity for raising further awareness about the project and launching the related resources. Here's a summary of the day's activities -
9am, Awareness-raising march:
Our peer educators took part in an impressive march through the busy streets of Fort Dauphin to raise awareness about World AIDS Day, joined by local agencies, local authorities, businesses, community groups and schools. At times the streets were lined with community members of all ages who observed the many groups as they marched, danced and sang their way through the town.
10am, Formal opening of World AIDS Day activities: The march ended at the Lycee where all the groups gathered, along with members of the public who joined en-route! The day's activities were kicked off with a rousing rendition of the Malagasy national anthem followed by a series of speeches by the school's headteacher and representatives from relevant local authorities where they highlighted the significance of the day and the importance of working together to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
11am, Exhibition of the Safidy information resources and poster design competition entries:
The peer educators hosted this small exhibition where they showed off the new resources (complete with their photographs on the front!) and everyone could take away any sexual health leaflets of interest to them. It was impressive to see the stall being so popular, with everyone both young and old taking information resources away with them. Everyone had the opportunity to view the great AIDS awareness posters that had been entered into the design competition.
11:30am, Singing competition: Over ten acts took part in this contest, which soon became Fort Dauphin's answer to the X Factor as the cheers and claps rose from the hundreds of children and young people who crowded in near the stage to watch the talented young singers. Peer educators Juvance and Marcelline hosted the competition, introducing the acts, explaining about the themes of the Safidy project and getting volunteers on stage in between songs to answer questions about HIV/AIDS and sexual health.
2pm, Dance competition: After a short lunch break the crowds gathered again for this highly entertaining contest, comprising ten acts representing classes from all three years of the school. A mixture of styles was represented, both contemporary and traditional, and each act was incredibly original and well rehearsed. The routines gained quite a reaction from the young crowd, with cheering and laughter throughout.
3pm, Quiz and poetry reading: Some of the colourful Safidy notebooks and pens were up for grabs for volunteers from the crowd who could give the right answers to questions about HIV/AIDS, STIs and contraception in this short quiz. Following this, two young people read poems that they had written to share messages about HIV/AIDS prevention.
3:30pm, Mixed basketball tournament final: After three weeks of tough competition between all the classes, girls and boys representing classes P1 and P3 competed in this mixed final. Over a thousand spectators had gathered by this stage so the atmosphere was electric, with the players having a lot of encouragement throughout! This was the first time the school has held a mixed tournament and it was brilliant to see boys and girls competing together. During the match the Safidy peer educators moved through the crowd sharing the messages of the project, answering questions and distributing condoms as requested.
5:30pm, Prize giving: After an hour and a half of play the boys and girls of Class P3 were announced as the winners of the basketball tournament and presented with Safidy t-shirts and notebooks. The winners of the day's other competitions were also announced leading to many bouts of celebratory dancing and singing, truly a wonderful way to end World AIDS Day!
We were overwhelmed by the huge numbers who attended and participated on Saturday and we are so pleased to know that the messages of the Safidy project and World AIDS Day have been heard by so many. Over the coming months our staff and peer educators will continue to build on this awareness through workshops and activities. Thanks again for taking the time to read-up on our progress and we look forward to sharing more exciting news with you in the new year. Seasons Greetings from all at Azafady!