Positive Youths in Action (POYA) an advocacy group made up of young people in Masaka are rallying the masses through their creative works to create HIV/AIDS awareness.
The youths that are inspiring their colleagues and the general population in fighting stigma amongst people living with HIV/AIDS are thankful to Uganda Cares for bringing them together and supporting them in the several activities.
Through POYA and with support from AHF Uganda cares, they have attained entrepreneurial skills like making liquid soap, crafts, and candles, which they sell to earn some money, that help look after their families since some of them are head families.
Posiano Sserwadda the general secretary of POYA says that through music and drama they have managed to bring together their colleagues living with HIV/AIDS to fight stigma and encourage youth to stay on treatment and those not yet tested to do so.
“The youth need music and entertainment, and it’s easy to carry your message through drama, music, poems or arts entirely than having that message in a speech. When we realised this we decided to take that route of using creative arts through talent shows and these have helped reach out to HIV positive people and fight stigma,” said Sserwadda.
He adds that through entertainment they have managed to change the lives of people in communities and their engagements have helped HIV positives adhere to drugs.
“The people we have reached and those brought on board adhere to drugs since we keep encouraging ourselves that we can live and attain our dreams when we stay on our treatment.”
Aloysius Ngobya, another POYA leader, says that their performances have greatly touched many HIV positive people giving them hope that they can attain their dreams when they follow the guidance of health workers and start and take they drugs diligently.
“We have always told our colleagues that you can only survive when take your drugs daily and this message has sunk into our minds, and we have carried the flag to the colleagues that have always joined our group. We appreciate our leader Dan Kawooya who brought us together – this has helped us to keep counselling each other and our colleagues and this has helped us fight negative thoughts go skipping taking drugs.”
“Since 2012, when our drama group started to make public performances, many have been inspired by our testimonies that testing HIV/AIDS Positive is not the end of the road,” he added.
Ngobya however, asked the government to support the youth living with HIV/AIDS with vocational skills that can help them generate some income and sustain them to keep on treatment since unemployment is one of the major reasons that youth abandon taking anti-HIV drugs.
Ngobya says that though organizations such as Uganda Cares is supporting the youth in skills development many of them are unemployed, and they can’t even manage to access treatment because they don’t have money for transport to medical facilities. But this can be addressed if they attain some skills that can make them self-reliant.
Henry Magala, Country Program director, AHF Uganda Cares, applauded, the youths for using their talents to create awareness saying that drama and entertainment have greatly helped in bringing so many youths on board and the Masaka youth center is a model center for advocacy and sensitization in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Terry Ford, Chief of Advocacy AHF Uganda care said that the works done by Masaka youths can be replicated in the entire world because their works are incredible in changing mindsets about the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Sareen Davidian Associate Director of Global Creative Design also appreciated the youths for the creative work they do saying that they were greatly impressed by their work and asked the ‘to continue doing what they do best’ – creating awareness about HIV/AIDS through creative arts.
“You have given us more than what we expected to go out there and encourage more youth join you. Make sure that it’s not only Uganda that you impress. You need to impress the world to know that what Uganda can do the rest of the world can do. I give you all my blessings and love,” she added.
The talent show and exhibition for the youths is one of the activities AHF Uganda Cares has had ahead of the celebrations to mark 20 years of existence and services in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country.