AMWIK, Miss Koch Kenya celebrate milestones on World Aids Day

By MARION MAINA

The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) in conjunction with Miss Koch Kenya held a colourful ceremony to mark this year’s World Aids Day in Korogocho, Nairobi.

The two organisations have been working together for the past three years with the sole mandate of creating awareness for Adolescents’ Sexual Reproductive Health among the youths in Korogocho.

This initiative was prompted by heightened childhood pregnancies that led to most girls dropping out of school to nurse their babies. With increased illiteracy levels among the youth came poverty, drug and substance abuse and an overall deplorable state of the community.

AMWIK’s research shows that most parents never engaged their children in sex education talks. There was a wide knowledge gap among the adolescents with most of them opting to quench their curiosity through experimenting. In the process the end up pregnant and confused. They figured that if they empowered the youths and community with information on reproductive health, then they would be in a better position to make wise choices.

ENGAGED VOLUNTEERS

For the past three years, they have engaged volunteers from Miss Koch, an empowerment organisation that creates a platform for urban youth to participate in the socio-economic and political developments of Korogocho, in conducting radio listening groups in five schools within Korogocho. AMWIK purchases radios and delivers them alongside pre-recorded messages to the schools. Time is allocated for listening to the recorded messages. At the end of the session, volunteers alongside the teachers ask any questions posed by the pupils.

In addition to the radio listening program, the initiative also holds competitive interschool debates and discussions. The schools where this program runs are; Rehema Primary School, Daniel Comboni Primary School, Highridge Baptist Primary School , KDN Primary school and BigPen Primary School.

“The sessions have really made the sex conversation much more comfortable. We have also noticed that the children show a lot of interest on the topic of rape. This is because most of them have witnessed their friends being raped and some have been unfortunate enough to be victims of this heinous act,” said Njambi, a volunteer with Miss Koch Kenya.

An interschool dance performance during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho. PHOTO| MARION MAINA

During the event, key issues such as Gender based violence and child abuse were highlighted and their link to spread of HIIV/AIDS expounded on. Marceline Nyambala, Executive Director (AMWIK) appealed to parents in the audience to cultivate good relationships with their children and keep all communication channels open.

‘BE YOUR CHILD’S FRIEND’

“Be a friend to your child. That way, you will know what they are going through in life and be able to advise them accordingly on all matters including sex. Teach them abstinence without calling them names in case you see them getting close to children of the opposite sex. Let your home be peaceful, a safe haven for them to ask questions and express their concerns,” advised Ms Nyambala.

Lydia Nguku from LVCT during the World Aids DayLydia Nguku from LVCT during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho. PHOTO| MARION MAINA

 Liverpool Voluntary Counselling and Testing (LVCT) was also represented by Ms. Lydia Nduku who made a brief presentation on the recently rolled out  Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment usually administered to HIV negative people who are at high risk of contracting the virus.  The treatment is taken orally and should be taken continuously for the period for which one remains at high risk of getting the HIV virus. She reassured the mothers in the audience that the treatment was absolutely safe for both pregnant and nursing mothers.  She concluded her address by urging all present to get tested so as to know their HIV status and plan their life accordingly.

LACK OF ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

Lack of economic empowerment among women has been attributed as a contributing factor to the spread of HIV. This is because some of them end up engaging in transactional and unsafe sex so as to fend for their families.

Millicent Oyamo from the Women Entrepreneurship Fund during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho.Millicent Oyamo from the Women Entrepreneurship Fund during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho. PHOTO| MARION MAINA

In Korogocho, women are abandoned by irresponsible fathers and have to carry the full burden of feeding, clothing and educating the children. With little or no formal education as well as rampant unemployment in the slum area, the women resign to selling their bodies so as to earn an income. It is for this reason that AMWIK decided to invite a representative from the Women’s Enterprise Fund, Ms Millicent Oyamo, to create awareness of viable economic resources that were accessible to women in the community.

Young Angels doing a jig with AMWIK officials during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho. PHOTO| MARION MAINAYoung Angels doing a jig with AMWIK officials during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho. PHOTO| MARION MAINA

“The Women’s Enterprise Fund is dedicated to enabling women in Kenya to achieve Vision 2030. We are here to empower you economically. All you need to do is register your chama with us and open a bank account so as to access our interest-free loans. We are able to give you loans amounting from Sh.10, 000 up to Sh750, 000. In addition, we have partnered with institutions of higher learning such as Moi University to train women on entrepreneurship. Be empowered today by joining the Women’s Enterprise Fund,” appealed Ms Oyamo.

Paul Muiga, a debating champion, during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho. PHOTO| MARION MAINAPaul Muiga, a debating champion, during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho. PHOTO| MARION MAINA

To crown the event, the audience was treated to enchanting performances by Interschool groups, a group of youthful dancers called Young Angels as well as free-style poetry by a group called Pause& Play.

AMWIK Executive Director Marceline Nyambala flanks Miss Koch Kenya official Njambi as she makes her speech during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho.AMWIK Executive Director Marceline Nyambala flanks Miss Koch Kenya official Njambi as she makes her speech during the World Aids Day celebrations on December 1, 2017 in Korogocho. PHOTO| MARION MAINA

“We have had a very successful year. For the first time in quite a long time, none of the girls who sat for their KCPE exams this year was pregnant. For us, that is a clear indication that the program is impacting the community positively. In the coming year, we are hoping to join hands with many other organisations in a collaborative effort to reach out to more communities so as to sensitise them on sexual reproductive health among adolescents. In our small way, we are winning in the battle against sexual abuse, childhood pregnancies, spread of HIV/AIDS and poverty,” said Dr. Dorothy Njoroge, Chairperson for AMWIK.

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