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