Youth on a Mission Expands Reach with New Partnership

VMS has been actively looking to expand our reach into the larger community and we are excited to announce our new partnership with a local NGO, Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Program (TVEP), that will allow us to work with teenagers in the larger Vhembe district. Through this program, our HIV+ Ambassadors will be conducting talks at local schools. They will also start HIV+ support groups at two clinics in the area and do a series of radio talk shows to encourage positive living and people to get tested.

It has always been VMS’s dream to roll out the support group model to children in other villages and clinics, since many of our members know first-hand from their own experiences that lots of children living with HIV/AIDS do not have access to the correct information and necessary emotional support they need. This year, through our partnership with TVEP, we are hoping to make this dream a reality. Plans are already in the works for two additional support groups and we are excited to expand our mission, reach more young people, and build a permanent relationship with them.

To kick off this partnership, three member of the young adult support group who are not at school this year went to two secondary schools (Nthetsheleseni and Muhuyuwathomba) and spoke to audiences of over 300 students at each school. They told the students their life story with HIV, and focused on engaging young girls and explaining the health-related dangers of sleeping with older men for money (a practice, often referred to as “blessing” that is become more prevalent in the area). These speakers also encouraged the students not to discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS, as stigmatization is still prevalent in the area.

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