• December 6th, 2020

DREAMS volunteers graduate… urge robust education on reproductive health

Paheja Siririka

Thirty-two young Namibian women graduated as the first ambassadors in the country from the DREAMS programme aimed at supporting adolescent girls and young women in the prevention of new HIV infections.

The programme is conducted through education in reproductive health, prevention of gender-based violence, and entrepreneurship support.
DREAMS which stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids-free, Mentored, and Safe is a programme funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and supported by Peace Corps.
One of the graduates, Johanna Shinana (21) told Youth Corner there isn’t enough awareness on the virus.

“I don’t think much awareness on the risk of HIV and prevention of sexual violence and understanding sexual reproductive health had been raised in Namibia. Many tribes are still arranging child marriages, which make adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) more vulnerable to HIV, involved in sexually abusive relationships and not exercise their Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. Hence, AGYW are not able to make informed decisions about their bodies. In most cases, parents sell their children off and support transactional relationships and do not normally consider that their child is at high risk of contracting HIV and being abused,” she highlighted.

Shinana added: “When it comes to HIV/Aids, the government must at all times make sure they capture new infections and put these people on medication with immediate effect. There is also a need to educate people on oral Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Embassies must continue advocating awareness on factors of HIV/Aids. It is only when platforms like DREAMS that aims to curb new HIV infections are introduced into society and empower AGYW to reach their full potential. We need to educate AGYW across Namibia to see the change we yearn to see in our communities and live an HIV free world.”

Another alumna, Gobasen Uiras (21) mentioned that the most important highlight that she has learnt from the programme is the opportunity to voice out against things she opposes.  

“GBV is happening a lot in my country and is very high; in this particular year, one good example is of the 12-year-old girl who had been brutally raped in Havana which has stirred up a lot of terror in Namibia and our people are fed up with this. The other headache is the increase of HIV infections amongst females aged from 10 to 24,” elaborated Uiras.
She added: “This is such a sad reality and is something that we as Namibians are ignorant about and choose to turn a blind eye to. Now that I am given the power to help my peers, I am sure I will have an impact on them and make them aware of the reality and how they can be protected.”
In terms of mobilising available resources to efficiently educate Namibians, Uiras said the government should avail more scholarships to Namibian women, not only for tertiary education but also for those wanting to upgrade their studies.  
The US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Jessica Long, presented the graduation certificates at a small ceremony in Windhoek last week and said she is proud to see many dedicated and motivated young women.

Long added: “I am confident that this programme is yet another important milestone on the way to an Aids-free generation in Namibia. 
The DREAMS ambassadors will strengthen your communities and your country’s physical, social, and economic health.”
Long also mentioned that the DREAMS ambassadors will mobilise and support participation in the programme in their communities in places such as Windhoek, Katima Mulilo, Onandjokwe, Omuthiya, and Tsumeb.
- psiririka@nepc.com.na

Paheja Siririka
2020-11-11 14:24:58 | 24 days ago

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