HIV Campaign in an Islamic School
I am pleased to share with you and others a brief report of the HIV/AIDS Awareness program held at Ansar-Ud-Deen High School, Liberty road, Oke Ado, Ibadan. The school is an Islamic school with 98% of the students being Muslim and has a student population of about 3,000. The receptivity of the school to the program is contrary to the views expressed in many circles that schools that are predominantly Muslim are opposed to such programs. The program was sponsored by the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) and was part of the UNICEF-Massive Awareness Raising Activity (UNICEF-MARC) on HIV/AIDS in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State, Nigeria.
A carnival along Liberty road enabled students and teachers wearing fez caps with appropriate messages to create awareness on HIV/AIDS and sensitize people to prevention strategies around and beyond the school's immediate environment. They also distributed HIV/AIDS leaflets. The carnival was very entertaining as the students and teachers danced to the admiration of the people. This drew the attention of the people who listened to the messages and collected the leaflets. Questions asked by these passers-by were answered by available ARFH staff on the spot.
A Program Officer from ARFH, Mrs. Stella Akinso gave a talk on "Roles of Youth in Preventing the Spread of HIV/AIDS." At the end of the lecture, students and teachers asked questions with appropriate answers provided by the resource person. Most of the students who could not openly ask questions wrote them on slips and passed them over.
A drama titled "HIV/AIDS Is Dead" was presented by members of the Youth Rescue Club of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health. The drama presentation portrayed youth as a most vulnerable group but who also have the power to wage war and conquer HIV/AIDS. The drama started with a scene showing youth drinking, partying, smoking and engaging in sexual escapades. The outcome was that they played into the hands of HIV/AIDS who had also enticed them with his "humane posture" and eventually clubbed them to death. Some managed to escape and decided to learn more preventive measures from a wise old man whose counsel they had initially rejected.
Amongst the youth were two young persons who eventually emerged as the hero and heroine. They are in a relationship and had received information and education on HIV/AIDS from the "Wise Old Man." As a result of the counseling, they agreed to keep to all HIV/AIDS preventive strategies. They promised to be faithful and abstain from sex till they are matured and ready for marriage. With this information, they challenged HIV/AIDS to a war of wits and an open display of strength.
HIV/AIDS challenged their suitability to confront him, seeking to know what weapons they had and the secret of their boldness. HIV/AIDS became weak when confronted with what they had learnt. The boy and the girl joined efforts to physically engage HIV/AIDS in a fight and in the end HIV/AIDS was killed and carried off the stage by the young persons. The students and teachers, including the principal of the school, openly applauded the story line and its ending.
In other recent activities, a lecture on HIV/AIDS was presented at School for the Handicapped (HLA, Agodi Gate, Ibadan). Highlights were a film show and distribution of leaflets. This Oyo State Government-owned school has a population of about 250 students. The program was at the insistance of one of the female teachers who volunteered information about the sexual activities of the students and requested for a health talk on HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy. She reported that the students are sexually abused by their colleagues (who are equally disabled) and other able-bodied people within the school's immediate environment. Some of them become pregnant by persons they are unable to identify which further compounds their problems. It was the first time such activity is taking place in the school.
Reported by Grace E. Delano, Executive Director/VP, Association for Reproductive and Family Health.
This article was provided by Gay Men's Health Crisis. It is a part of the publication GMHC Treatment Issues. Visit GMHC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.