Future Assured, an initiative of the Aisha Buhari Foundation ("ABF"), is a non-governmental organization set up with the vision of securing the future for women and children. Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Buhari is the UNAIDS ambassador for the eradication of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. As part of the activities to commemorate the 2019 World AIDS Day event, the foundation organized a one-day sensitization event for corps members and in-school adolescents. Enlightening this community of young persons is key to preventing the spread of HIV. The training was attended by teachers and over a hundred corps members and adolescents. I was invited by ABF to facilitate in the one-day sensitization even and it was a so impactful and very interactive session.
As The Well Project's Global Ambassador, I took the session on Basic Facts on HIV and used my own life experience as an example for the participants. I talked about the ways one can contract HIV and the ways one cannot contract it. I also mentioned modes of prevention. I used songs, pictures of STIs, and brainstorming to discuss the various sexually transmitted infections including the ulcer causing and non-ulcer causing STIs, and curable and non-curable STIs, with examples. I asked participants if they know the signs and symptoms of HIV. After several suggestions by the participants, I amazed the participants by saying that "HIV no dey show for face" that is purely asymptomatic. I asked if the participants could tell if I have HIV and told them to show me any of the signs mentioned that I possessed. No participant could point to any, as I look very healthy. I narrated my ordeal living positively with HIV and how I have faced so many forms of discrimination, both at home and in my workplace.
The Well Project's information and communication materials were shared among all that were present, and discussion on U=U was another great session with them - and fun.
Participants asked questions about HIV drugs being free and available, symptoms of HIV, moving from AIDS stage to HIV, and about a person being undetectable. Appropriate answers were given and all misconceptions about the HIV virus and other STIs were corrected. Post-test questions were distributed to all participants. At mid-day, the adolescents departed to their respective schools, while the second part of the training with the corps members continued.
Hajiya Fatima Almakura, who represented Dr. Aisha Buhari, the founder of the Future Assured initiative, delivered a brief welcome address to the participants. Presentations were made by the facilitators. My second session was with the National Youth Service Corps members who are currently serving the nation of Nigeria. Young people who are sexually active, it was so fun having to teach them a lot on types and different symptoms of STIs. The session was very interactive because at this point the high school students were not in the hall with us. It was an open discussion time and lots of questions were directed at me.
I'm happy to say that the participants got a deeper understanding on the various sessions taken. The topics covered included: Relationships; Goals and Goal Setting, Values & Value Clarification; Self-Esteem; Negotiation; Refusal; Assertiveness; Decision-Making: Communication; and Counselling Skills. They understood the ways one can get sexually transmitted infections, cancers, and HIV; prevention; socio-economic impact; and management. After the adolescents left, the older young people (corps members) were further trained on condoms. Participants were able to understand the different areas of applying the skills for different challenges they may face, including when religious leaders, teachers/lecturers, uncles and dads, friends, sugar mummies, and sugar daddies lure them to sex.