There is a reliable relationship between the discovery of oneself, relationship with God, what values and principles of life and the spread of HIV and AIDS. This researched understanding, alongside knowledge on STIs, informs the methodology that AJAN employs in intervening against the scourge in Africa.
On Wednesday 6th up to Friday 8th November 2019, St. Catherine, South B, Nairobi was the venue as 65 youth drawn from the school itself, and several other schools under the umbrella of Sisters of Mercy Education Office, Kenya, gathered for a training of trainers. Fresh from undertaking their final and national primary school examinations and with ages ranging from 12 and 15, the youth demonstrated palpable affinity towards learning more about life in relation to the virus. To kick off the exercise, was a subject about self-discovery whereby they were allowed to express their own understanding before being helped to understand better and discover more. In this regard, they were helped to understand the need to have the right role models to look up to as this defines what their focus becomes in life.
A personal relationship with God key to a decent and virtuous life
Relationship with God and neighbors shapes the human being and with this being at the center of AJAN’s procedures in administering of AHAPPY, the young people were allowed to express their perspective on God and were helped to acquire further insight as pertains how this should inform how they live their lives. The importance of every human being based on the value God has put in them was a reference point that was deemed to help them grow their self-esteem besides treating others as themselves, as Jesus would say. They were led to appreciate that man can fall, but God is ever waiting with open arms. The young have to build a solid foundation based on intrinsic values and principles to live a purposeful life. Therefore, the youth at St. Catherine Mukuru, drawn from various schools under the Sisters of Mercy umbrella, appreciated the need to be honorable people functioning well in society.
The dynamics of sexual relations and contraction of STIs, HIV and AIDS
Of supreme importance was increasing the pupils’ knowledge of HIV and AIDS complemented by a better understanding of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Factors that expose people to the diseases, how they are transmitted, their symptoms and how to access treatment. The students had many questions as they sought deeper knowledge and the trainers responded to questions with love and care but exhaustively. It was clear that HIV and AIDS remains a matter of great concern for all and without personal commitment to abstain from early sexual activity, chances of contracting the virus remain high.
Sex before marriage and others forms of sexual behavior were discussed in depth and most students admitted to having had misconceptions or poor knowledge about these in relation to HIV and AIDS vulnerability. STIs, HIV and AIDS were explained to be exacerbated by extreme sexual practices and the students were urged to shun them all and opt for abstinence so as to remain pure as they press on towards a safer life.
The correlation of drug abuse and HIV and AIDS was not left unscathed as part of the continent of the students are currently undergoing rehabilitation. All were able to absorb knowledge of how drugs predispose them to diseases as they negatively affect the mind’s willpower and function. It was clear, that to avoid HIV, one cannot develop the precarious habit of drug use.
A moment of deep introspection and healing
To cap it all, in the afternoon of the third day, an exercise to help the students experience a form of inner healing was carried out led by Fr. Elphege, AJAN director who is also a priest. The students were able to write down disappointments, failures, abuse, harassment, injustices and pains that they have had to undergo in life due to their mistakes or those meted to them by other people. This was a moment of deep introspection and retrospection after which they were allowed to burn the papers they had written the issues on, completely detaching their souls from unfortunate happenings and sin and opening up a clean page as they await entry into secondary. Fr. Elphege delivered a short sermon from John 8 which underlined Jesus ability to forgive all sin rather than condemn mankind.