August 2018

In His Own Words: Peer Educator Baraka Abieza on Attending AIDS 2018 and Why He’s Hopeful for an AIDS-Free Future

Created by:

Baraka Abieza

Country:

Tanzania

Topics:

Adolescent Care & Treatment; EGPAF Ambassadors; Policy & Advocacy

“I am inspired to encourage others more because I attended the AIDS Conference”

My name is Baraka Abieza, I’m 16 years old and am HIV-positive. I’m a peer educator from Dodoma, Tanzania.

 

Because of my role as a peer educator, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) selected me to represent other adolescents from Tanzania at the AIDS 2018 conference, so that I can learn new ideas and understand the latest research and science surrounding HIV and be able to share those experiences with other peer educators and adolescents when I return to Tanzania.

Attending the AIDS conference was an amazing experience. I have never attended an international conference before. I got a lot of ideas about youth and HIV that I didn’t know before. So it was very exciting and impactful to me.

During my time in Amsterdam I encountered a number of surprises. I met famous people and to shared my experiences with them. Talking with Charlize Theron and Jake Glaser was very inspirational for me. Jake Glaser encouraged me a lot.

I was also very happy to meet peer educators from other countries like Josephine, Dee, Bobby and Brian. Their confidence impressed me. They are doing many things for youths in their countries.

Peer educators and youth Ambassadors Dee, Brian, Baraka and Josephine at AIDS 2018

I also learned many things about the science related to HIV, particularly about the importance of the ARV pills that we take every day.

I think it is very important for every adolescent living with HIV and taking drugs to understand clearly the reasoning behind the drugs they take and the behavior they are advised to practice.

People were very nice at the conference. Josephine, from EGPAF-Uganda cared for me like her younger brother. Other EGPAF staff from the United States also talked to me and gave me encouragement.

Baraka speaking on a youth panel at AIDS 2018

I think people were happy to see me because I was a young person, and am unexperienced with these kind of conferences. Some people asked how I was feeling to be in the conference. They encouraged me to keep moving forward and do what I am doing for adolescents.

#PasstheMic Youth panel with Charlize Theron and Quinn Tivey

The conference is over and I’m back in Tanzania. The first thing that I will do is give feedback and share experiences I have learned from the conference with other peer educators. I will also form a youth group on WhatsApp where we will share many experiences and adolescents will be able to share the ideas and concerns openly with each other.

*Baraka’s participation at AIDS 2018 was supported through the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)-funded ACT Adolescent Project, in which he serves as a peer educator in Dodoma, Tanzania.