HAPPEN seems to be the only serious programme dealing with prevention in schools covering the whole diocese of Homa Bay. Others include ADRA ABY and world Vision but the two have only small sections covered. AFYA II Nyanza only deals with awareness creation without any serious follow up that would enable one to have the changed behaviour maintained.
With the guideline of HAPPEN project that covers different issues to be addressed to make the programme effective, there are good reports from 84 schools that the youth have changed even in their performances in academics now that they are sure of why they are at school and what they aim at. Even though it would be going slowly to reach other schools it is important that the youth from the different schools where the activities are on would be sharing with the others from the schools not reached yet through the issue of peer education.
The region covered by the project i.e. the Catholic diocese of Homa Bay is still the leading region with highest new infections and prevalence rates in the whole country.
This may be the influence of the lake that runs to the western parts of the whole region to the southwestern parts. Unlike in towns where educated people search for job opportunities, people who storm these places (the beaches and the regions along the lake shores) to earn their living include mostly the uneducated group. More so, on the side of girls or women they are divorcees and widows who search for new marriages. These people lack appropriate information and skills to help them make better decisions for their sexual life..
Coupled with this are the outdated but very difficult to do away with socio-cultural factors like sexual subservience where men are encouraged to be promiscuous including within marriage while women are often expected to be “pure”. This together with low levels of education among girls and young women who are being pulled out of school early to perform household chores has made the young women to be more vulnerable to infection than their male counterparts.
It is estimated that more than one of every four persons worldwide are young people between ages 10 – 24. During these ages, young adults are learning, exploring and making decisions that will permanently affect the rest of their lives. Young people are a great potential resource for the future with fresh energy, ideas, and hope. These days the youth become sexually active at an early stage but stay longer before getting married than in the previous generation. This is because of financial problems or because of better opportunities in education.
This increases the number of young people who are sexually active but single for many years thus making the slogan “NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE” irrelevant to most of the youth. High rates of unintended or early pregnancies, STIs/HIV infections and unsafe abortions are clear indications that sexual activities are practiced even at early stages. In their reproductive health, youth in this category need information, skills and services that can help them make responsible decisions about their sexual behaviour. Without these, the youth are likely to engage in high-risk behaviours that can have adverse consequences.
It is true that most of the youth in upper primary and secondary schools have known some of the consequences of sexual activity in early stages of life or before marriage while most of the information they have are not correct. With the introduction of contraceptives, most of the youth think they are secure even though many are not using them (contraceptives) or do not know how to use them. Many cases have been reported of schoolgirls taking birth control pills and boys found with condoms in their pockets. This makes them engage in sexual intercourse quite often thinking that getting pregnant is the only negative repercussion of such sexual behaviours.
The use of drugs is quite rampant among the youth thus making them to have low reasoning capacity and even failing exams. After failing exams, they become a threat to the community here, as they are the ones stealing to earn a living or buy drugs that are also a bit expensive.
With the influx of NGOs along the lakeshores some hope is restored even though the programmes have been working in isolation in most cases and prevention is not taken seriously. Most of the intervention strategies are focused mainly on orphans and PLWHAs care and support while very little is done on the side of Prevention. There exist several VCT sites but only a handful of people do visit them due to shyness, values on traditions, attitudes of the community towards the centers, lack of enough knowledge about what is blood testing on HIV/AIDS and fear of stigma that might follow after the test.
Meaning of the logo:
- The big fish that is leading signifies the Bishop of Homa-bay Diocese leading.
- The five small fish signifies the 5 deaneries in the Diocese
- The red ribbon is the symbol for HIV/AIDS
- HAPPEN, this is the project name
This is a lake region and we thought that a logo dealing with the fish and the lake is a good example.