Indianapolis Star (10.19.03) - Thursday, October 23, 2003
Teens in Zambia and Ghana are working to empower young people
in the fight against HIV/AIDS by sharing information with each
other and the world.
At Trendsetters, a youth-run journalism organization in
Lusaka, Zambia, a monthly magazine and a free school edition
focus on HIV/AIDS and other health concerns for teens. "We try
to [make it] fun, funky and everything that interests young
people at school," said staff member Peter Nawa, 17. In the
past eight years, the magazine has expanded its paid
circulation to more than 10,000, making it the highest-
circulation monthly publication in Zambia.
Although Trendsetters won the 1997 Global Media Award
presented by Washington-based Population Institute and was
recognized as a leading youth NGO in Zambia, staff members
measure success in a different way. "The public used to
condemn [Trendsetters and] its main focus about sex," said
Kelly Telebwe, 18. "But now I think people are getting used to
it, and they know the importance of informing the public about
Another organization whose mission is to raise HIV/AIDS
awareness is Ghana's Gateway Youth Ambassadors, a project of
the US-based Children's Christian Storehouse. By conveying
their message through song and dance, Gateway works to educate
national and international audiences.
According to the UN, only 22 percent of young people in Ghana
and 26 percent in Zambia have sufficient knowledge of HIV/AIDS
to protect themselves. In Zambia, 32 percent of youths believe
HIV can be transmitted supernaturally. And, though 57 percent
of Zambian adolescents know a place to get tested, only 4
percent have actually done so.
But the young activists remain undeterred. "[AIDS has] taken
away a lot of the people who could've really contributed to
making Africa something," said Kapalu Mutenda, 17, of
Trendsetters. "But... the more AIDS tries to weaken us, I
think the stronger we become."