31 October 2008

Rwanda: Teens Ask Parents to Talk About HIV/Aids

Kigali — Teens gathered at Islamic Center Nyamirambo, a city suburb for a one day Anti-AIDS competition organised by the international organisation Right to Play on Tuesday, asked their parents to talk about issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in their homes.

Teens that spoke to The New Times yesterday say that one of the reasons HIV/AIDS is still high among youth is that parents shy from speaking to their children about relationships and the pandemic.

"Few of us have tried to join and form anti-AIDS clubs at our schools but those are disadvantaged because most parents don't want to talk about relationships, issues surrounding sexuality," Moses Habimana, a student a from Ecole secondary de Kanombe, said at the competition venue.

While Aline Cyuzuzo and Cylina Munyaburanga from St. Patrick, Kicukiro added that parents are responsible for their children's lives.

These teens have also asked relevant authorities to join efforts and stop the terrible habit by older people, especially men known as 'Sugar Daddies', who seduce them with cash, phones and car rides among other things.

They have asked the authorities to put tough measures like arresting Sugar Daddies and Sugar Mummies who are guilty of luring them into acts of unwanted and unprotected sexual intercourse.

Apart from the above, teens have asked whoever concerned to organise activities that can occupy them during the holida ys to fight redundancy that pushes them into activities that can make them fall into unsafe sex.

Steve Kamanzi, Right to Play, project coordinator in charge of education sector told The New times in an interview that four winning schools will be given a DVD player to assist them watch recorded reproductive health and HIV/AIDS messages.

Kamanzi added that 24 schools were represented at the function and that Right to Play has reached over 100,000 teenagers, in the country under its 'live safe' and 'play safe' programs.

"In this program we train coaches of Anti-AIDS clubs, use drama and sport and also target the disadvantaged, and we work with children ," Kamanzi said.

Right to Play country Director Gningue Massamba said the annual competition is an exchange of experience among youth that can help them learn more about protecting themselves.

Massamba added that it helps them fight stigma and being open minded about HIV/AIDS to empower youth to curb the pandemic in the country.

Aloysius EBOKEM FOMENKY Communications and Advocacy Officer UNFPA, also underscored the importance of youth development in general and HIV prevention in particular.

Speaking on behalf of Thérèse Zeba UNFPA country Representative, Fomenky said that the importance of HIV prevention cannot be underestimated, especially in Rwanda where about 65% of the population are youth.

"This age group is very fragile and needs to be nurtured because it forms the backbone of the country's economic and social development," Fomenky said.

The competition was organized by Right to Play to sensitise youth on the dangers of HIV/AIDS and how best they can protect themselves.

Right To Play is an international humanitarian organisation that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the world.

Working in both the humanitarian and development context, Right To Play, trains local community leaders as Coaches to deliver programs in more than 20 countries affected by war, poverty, and disease in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Right To Play programs target the most marginalised including girls, the disabled, children affected by HIV and AIDS, street children, former child combatants, refugees and is supported by an international team of top athletes from over 40 countries.

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