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REPORT OF CROWDOUTAIDS OFFLINE OPEN FORUM
My decision to host an open forum was due to the passion in me to discuss with Mushin youths on HIV/AIDS and how we, in our little effort can bring an end to it.
The offline open forum was held at Customary Court Hall, Zone D Police Barracks, Mushin Local Government, Lagos State. The forum started at exactly 4:15 pm and was brought to an end at exactly 7:15pm.
The forum had 37 people in attendance among who is Mr. Damilola Owolabi, a motivational speaker who came to charge the participants and advised them to abstain from sex before marriage as it is a seal between a husband and wife and not girl friend and boyfriend.
Ideas given by participants at the forum are presented below in bullet point:
1.1 What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear organizations, government bodies and the UN talking about youth leadership and engagement?
· Youth leadership and engagement has to do with us, being responsible for the growth and development of our peer group. Meanwhile, there is none in Mushin as a whole. Participants canvassed that youth perspectives have not been well represented and the reason was attributed to poor leadership and corruption from among the youth.
1.3 What are some of the mistakes that are made when organizations or governments work with young people?
· Bukola Adeniyi responded that corruption emerges from this while another participant said that the youth won’t do the task given effectively and will focus more on the financial aspect.
1.4 What challenges do you see in our community for young people to be leaders of social change?
· Participants said that many lack the experience and intimidation may arise from other colleagues.
Host, Ibrahim Olalekan.
1.5 Each participants were asked to write on a sheet of paper what they will tell Ban Ki-Moon (UN Secretary General) if he walks into the forum and tells them he has a big meeting in five minutes and needs the participants to come up with some key principles that should be respected when the UN/Governments/non-governmental organization work with young people. This is what they wrote:
· Ajayi Tobi: The involved body should give way to new ideas that can be invented by the youths. They should also enable empowerment for the youth; they should ensure that there are available spaces for the youth in the nation as in politically.
· Mayowa: Well, I will inform him that the young people are the future of tomorrow and we need to be represented well by our government and also we need more information to enlighten us for tomorrow challenges.
· Musa Abiodun: Key principles that should be respected include cooperation, encouragement, and paying for work done.
· Omotuyi Temitope Deborah: They should accept the fact that we youth are more informed than government organization and there are many researches that are made and are not yet seen by government organizations and with due apology even the ministers, governors and president.
· Onipede Esther: Key principles should be, listen to whatever the youths have to say, make them give opinion on their view about their environment, they should not feel intimidated, they should encourage others to be able to give out information as at when due, they should be given opportunity to be represented in any non-governmental organization.
· SefeOluwa Oyelude: Young people opinion should be listened to and considered when making principles and policies; ambassadors should be selected who can go back to grass root and get their peer educated about pertinent issues. There should be implementation of a kind of programme where semi-literate and out-of school youth (drop-outs and those who never went) can meet to discuss and brainstorm over AIDS, HIV and other sexual issues. These young people are not privileged to have the kind of information their learned counterparts have and so are more at risk of falling prey to diseases that are sex-related.
Onipede Esther, Akin. A.A. and Adeniyi Bukola used as illustration in the forum.
2.2 Current statistics in our country/region indicate that 3000 young people are living with HIV. Why is it like this?
· Akin A. A. said that the parent needs to educate their children on the harm and disadvantages of HIV/AIDS. He said the global age has given rise to the influx of HIV/AIDS and parent no longer have time for their children reason they can go out to have sex and sees it as a pleasure.
· Bukky Adeniyi: Also said that the prevalence of the virus is due to the addiction to sex by youth and also, many youths, male especially have sex with minors.
· Tobi Ajayi, said that unawareness of some people on HIV/AIDS gives more rise to the virus.
2.3 What do you think is needed to raise knowledge about HIV in your country?
· Nkem Emilia: This forum is a good one to do that.
· Yinka: This forum should be organized in secondary schools and higher institutions to alert people on HIV/AIDS and also the sale of pornography films should be stopped.
A participant at the Forum giving her idea.
2.4 What are some of the risks with being open about living with HIV in your community today?
· Participants said the risk of one to be open about his/her status is that the person stands to be stigmatized.
4.1 How can UNAIDS make young people aware that this information is available?
· Participants advocated for the use of social media.
Participants at the forum.
4.3 How can UNAIDS support and strengthen youth leadership in your country?
· Participants said that UNAIDS can support by them being a member of an organizations and also by In-Person tranings on Combating HIV/AIDS.
NOTE: All pictures were taken by Onilude Taiwo.
On December 2nd, 34 young people converged at the Rock view hotel, Wuse 2, Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss and share their thoughts on how HIV affects young people in their communities and what they think UNAIDS can do through the strategy that is being developed for young people.
The meeting started at 3:00pm and ended at 5:45pm. It was very interactive as the young people expressed themselves. Although majority of the participants/respondents were guys from University of Abuja, there was a high level of diversity In terms of religion, sexual orientation, backgrounds e.t.c that reflected in the way the youths responded to the questions based on the UNAIDS outline.
We also had the opportunity to document through videos and pictures that have also been attached to the report. Find pictures attached below. Videos will be attached separately to the email.
The CROWDOUT AIDS offline open forum wouldn’t have been made possible without the support of these passionate young people. They are: Kikelomo Taiwo- Facilitator, Wemimo Adekoya- Rapportuer, Aliyu Abdulrahman- Videos and Pictures.
We also want to appreciate Education as a Vaccine who made it possible for us to hold our forum in a comfortable space and supported with lunch (buffet) for all the participants. We hope you find this report relevant in the development of our strategy.
On December 9, 2011, American Corner Calabar, in support of the UNAIDS CrowdOutAIDS Campaign, organized an offline open program in Calabar, tagged “CrowdOutAIDS: Youth and HIV”. CrowdOutAIDS Offline Forum is a platform for young people within the community to share their perspectives and opinions on how they think a UN organization like UNAIDS can work more effectively young people in their goal of “Getting to Zero” by 2015.
The forum took place at the Parliamentary Secondary School, Calabar with a turnover of over a 100 student, teachers, Vice and Principals. For effective interactive communication, the students were shared into five groups, with about 20-23 in a group. Participants acquired new knowledge on HIV, youth leadership and staying healthy.
Using group work and discussions, the forum was focused on three main themes:
Theme 1: “Youth engagement and what youth leadership”. Including some of the challenges and opportunities that young people have in our community to get involved.
Theme 2: “Young people and HIV”. Here the focus drifted away from youth leadership to talks on HIV/AIDS issues. We needed to get the students to think and talk about their local reality within the context of HIV. This section was an opportunity to share context specific data and space to talk and reflect.
Theme 3: “Young people organized for HIV”. In this section we tied together the two topics of leadership and HIV. We needed to gain an understanding of youth involvement in the AIDS response on activities like prevention, treatment, care, support, advocacy etc
Some of the recommendations for UNAIDS included the creation of more social opportunities amongst rural and unreached communities, not just in the urban settings, there by affording every youth the opportunity to discover themselves early in life before they are exposed to the harsh environment.
The program came to an end with a thank you remark from the Vice Principal and the head prefect of the school.