Creating a vibe for young people, Irish Aid youth camp at Mbizi game Lodge.

In an effort to bring young people together, SAfAIDS conducted a Youth for Gender Transformation (Y4GT) club youth camp under the Integrated Approach to HIV and Gender Based Violence (Irish Aid Zimbabwe) programme at Mbizi Game Lodge in Harare. Thirty young people were drawn from SAfAIDS partners including Bekezela, Ndaiziva, DOMCAP, FACT Chiredzi and Betserenai. The Youth camp, a first of its kind brought together young people

and put them in a confined space were they were comfortable to share their views on issues pertaining to their sexual and reproductive health concerns. Team building exercises were used as a way of breaking the ice and promote bonding amongst adolescents who were coming from different cultural and religious backgrounds.

The conducive environment enabled the young people to openly share their experiences without fear of being judged. There was no experience which was regarded as scared as the adolescents saw the opportunity to share and learn from each other through their lived experiences.   

                                                                                                             Youths circle at a bonfire in the evening

Young people were given platforms to share their gender transformative stories as facilitators for the Y4GT clubs at their schools. Youths were so eager to share their success stories, with others bringing out interesting religious and cultural practices and beliefs from within their communities which are luring young people affecting young people to early and in some instances early marriages.

                                                                                                           Youths telling their stories from their Y4GT clubs

Of particular interest was the Komba culture widely practised in some deep parts of Chiredzi district called the Save area. The Komba culture initiates young boys and girls into manhood and womanhood respectively. Young people leave the initiation with the confidence and too much knowledge on how to please a woman/man, leading some of them having the zeal to experiment what they would have learnt, leading most young girls to marry early.

SAfAIDS used the opportunity to address gender norms and HIV issues with the young people. It also used the opportunity to strengthen the advocacy and activism skills of the Y4GT club facilitators.