World AIDS Day in Mozambique: A moment to make a change for the better
December 9, 2011
December 1st is commemorated around the globe as World AIDS Day
, a day to think and reflect about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and remember those lost during the three-decade fight against the disease. More that that though, it is an opportunity to celebrate the positive impact of the work of the Foundation and other partners is having in our collective efforts to eliminate pediatric AIDS in Mozambique
and around the world.
Every year, Mozambique’s national government selects a theme that is used by local governments to organize events. These year theme was “In defense of life, Zero new infections, Zero discrimination and Zero HIV/AIDS-Related Deaths.
Normally the Foundation participates together with the government and national organizations in a march. It is a terrific way to commemorate World AIDS Day. However, this year we decided to do something different: spend the day with children because they are the main focus of our mission. So we organized a day of activities with a group of children in Marracuene District near the capital city of Maputo.
Early in the morning as we were packing materials for the day’s activities, it was raining and overcast. We were afraid the bad weather was going to ruin a day of fun that we had planned for the kids. But as we were driving to the school where our event was taking place the sun popped out and brightened the day.
The day was wonderful. We played football with the kids and organized a dance contest with boys and girls. The kids were having a great time--you could see the happiness on their faces as they enjoyed the day with friends.
The winning team of the soccer tournament proudly displays their trophy. (Photo: EGPAF/Denise Alves)
Amid the fun, we took time to explain the importance of World AIDS Day to the kids. We talked with them about HIV/AIDS, and explained how people get the virus and how to prevent transmission. We also talked about discrimination, making sure the kids understood that we cannot discriminate against people just because they might be HIV-positive. We made sure they understood that every child has the right to play, go to school, and have support from family and friends.
(Top) Two girls participate in a drama performance during the World AIDS Day activities sponsored by the Foundation
(Bottom) Foundation affiliate Country Director Paula Vaz with a group of girls on World AIDS Day. (Photos: EGPAF/Denise Alves)
It was very impressive to hear what the children already knew about HIV/AIDS. They were able to answer most of the questions by themselves. But there were still opportunities for them to learn. We gave the children information on how to prevent HIV and protect themselves, and told them that it is important to live a healthy life. We explained to them that studies show that one way to eliminate HIV transmission is by changing sexual and social behaviors, and that as young people they have the chance to create a brighter future for Mozambique. The young people we met on World AIDS Day are the future of Mozambique--and the reason that we will achieve an HIV-free generation.
once said, “Sometimes in life there is that moment, when is possible to make a change for the better, this is one of these moments.” For us at the Foundation that bears her name, every day presents those moments, and World AIDS Day was no different.
Denise Alves is a Country Communications and Advocacy Officer for the Foundation, based in Maputo, Mozambique.