African Initiatives has been working with our partner, the Community Aid and Small Enterprises Consultancy (CASEC) in Tanzania since 2010 to fight this epidemic by supporting a HIV & AIDS Education and Life Skills Project for children in Arusha City. They work with fourteen secondary schools, with around 7,000 students each year. CASEC staff and a number of their dedicated volunteers work with schools to develop Health Clubs. Peer educators from each club are trained, and then share their learning with the rest of the school and, often the staff. Their sessions provide an opportunity to learn more about the issues surrounding HIV & AIDS and other diseases such as malaria. But they have become a lot more than this, amongst other things clubs now learn different study skills and gain information about healthy living.They use games, sports, drama, music, competitions and tournaments to inspire others to learn about the messages they import and community ‘reach out’ programmes to ensure a wider impact. Students at Oloirien School have dug a vegetable garden which now provides food for the whole school, including those students who could not afford to pay for lunch in the past. Each member of the club is asked to pay $2 if they can afford it at the end of each month. This goes towards work in the community and helps students suffering hardships, says Denis Efoper, Health Club guardian and teacher at Oloirien “It gives students responsibility. They learn to be responsible for their own community.”

This project shows Tanzanian youths that they have the power to take responsibility for their own sexual safety, meaning that pregnancy rates as well as HIV & AIDS rates will fall. It places a taboo subject into a new context, one in which it can be talked about. Oloirien School is already seeing a difference “Because of the club we have started giving all the girls pregnancy tests every 3 months. A nurse comes from the hospital. We never tell them that they are going to have one but it helps us to monitor what’s going on at school. Pregnancies have decreased.”

Watch John Chamanga, Health Club Guardian at Sombetini School talk about his experiences with the programme

Ongoing Success

The increasing success of this project has been recognised by local government and the municipality of Arusha with a large number of schools now approaching CASEC requesting to join the project

Life changes

£40 month (or £10 week) will support a volunteer in Arusha, Tanzania, to help implement a HIV and AIDS Education and Prevention Campaign in one school