The first group of young women to complete the DREAMS Ambassadors programme on HIV prevention, containment and lifestyle management, has just graduated. From here on, the ambassadors will mobilize and support participation in the programme in their respective communities in Windhoek, Katima, Onandjokwe, Omuthiya and Tsumeb.
The acronym DREAMS is derived from Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe. The programme is funded by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and supported by the Peace Corps. Funding for this programme now amounts to US$20 million per year. It was increased substantially during this year.
As part of the DREAMS programme, adolescent girls and young women between the ages 10 and 24, together with their parents, caregivers and live-in partners are educated in reproductive health, prevention of gender violence, and basic entrepreneurship. The focus is on the prevention of new HIV infections.
Last week Friday, the first 32 programme participants received their graduation certificates from the US Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission, Jessica Long.
"I am proud to see so many dedicated and motivated young women here today and I am confident that this programme is yet another important milestone on the way to an AIDS-free generation in Namibia," said Long at the ceremony.
Following the increase in funding, the programme has been extended from five to nine districts and the immediate goal is to triple the number of girls and young women reached from 21,000 to 64,000 over the next year.
The DREAMS programme is implemented by Project HOPE Namibia in the Khomas, Oshikoto and Zambezi regions, and by ACHIEVE/PACT in the Oshana and Kavango East regions.
Deputy Chief of Mission in in the US Embassy, Jessica Long (second from left) presents a certificate to DREAMS Ambassador Emilia Phillipus from the Oshikoto Region, with Project Hope Namibia Country Director Rosalia Indongo on the right.