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OneWorld Africa AIDS Youth Project Creating Big Impact in High Schools

The Youth Project aims to increase and improve the sharing of information and knowledge by youths in matters that focus on HIV/AIDS, through the use of ICTs. The project therefore undertook to provide the schools with computers complete with Internet connection. The pupils meet to discuss topics prepared by a coordinator.

 

'Mosi-oa-tunya' - The Smoke That Thunders... this is how the locals refer to the magnificent spray that rises above the falling waters of the Mighty Victoria Falls. Against this backdrop is Livingstone, Zambia's tourist capital and the "adventure center of Africa".

 

Livingstone is 480km south of Lusaka. It is named after missionary and explorer David Livingstone.  It’s proximity to the Zambezi River and the spectacular Victoria Falls makes Livingstone a popular destination for international travelers who want to see one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’

 

In this lush town lies Hillcrest High School, one of the schools participating in the OneWorld Africa Aids Youth Project. In a bid to ‘catch them young,’ OneWorld Africa (OWA) embarked on a unique project with nine schools across the country to facilitate and encourage youths (school pupils) to freely discuss HIV/AIDS issues with pupils from other schools across Zambia using the Internet.

 

The Youth Project aims to increase and improve the sharing of information and knowledge by youths in matters that focus on HIV/AIDS, through the use of ICTs. The project therefore undertook to provide the schools with computers complete with Internet connection. The pupils meet to discuss topics prepared by a coordinator.

A summary of the discussion is posted on the D-Group, an online space for discussions that uses an email-to-web facility. The project has trained patrons and matrons of HIV/AIDS clubs in the selected schools in the use of computers and the Online Communities of Practice.

 

OWA recently undertook an evaluation of the project to assess its impact, successes and challenges.  Hillcrest in Livingstone scored the highest, followed by Kansenshi High School in Ndola.

 

The AIDS club at Hillcrest scored the highest are the two schools that recorded the shares information about the disease with people in surrounding communities through drama, debates, posters, art and video shows.  Club Patron Humphrey Kalumbu says the project is helping affected pupils to come to terms with their situation and be able to deal with it.

 

Similarly, interest in HIV/AIDS issues has grown among the 2,500 pupils at Kansenshi. Initially, only a fraction had joined the club, but the number has almost doubled since the introduction of the OWA HIV/AIDS Youth Project, which runs alongside the AIDS Club.

 

Club Patron George Mulenga says many of the new members were attracted to the club through curiosity aroused by the new technology of the computer and the Internet.  But curiosity has been replaced with growing interest to learn and participate in issues of HIV/AIDS.

 

Church groups and local community HIV/AIDS clubs now come to the school to conduct search online research on HIV/AIDS, especially on issues concerning treatment, nutrition and prevention. The school is now using funds raised from the community to pay for Internet services. “At first we did not know how we were going to pay for internet bills, but now we are using the funds the communities pay for the services to pay internet bills and keep the project running,” he said.

 

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