Fr Jacquineau Azetsop SJ
Mothers and fathers talk to their children is an innovative program aiming at transmitting social skills from adults to youth in N’Djaména that is implemented by St Mathias Mulumba Parish and Loyola Youth Centre.
Why launch such a program? In traditional society, well-chosen individuals (aunts, uncles or grandparents) used to be entrusted with the task of transmitting social skills and values to young members of the family or clan. But modernity has eroded tradition, leaving a void, especially for those children who need extra care. Mothers and fathers talk to their children encourages communication between youth and elders and young people can get to know role models in their neighbourhood, to find people to confide in when they need.
The people who give talks as part of the project include members of the parish council, religious leaders, physicians, nurses, leaders of the Catholic Women’s Association and youth leaders. In a place where talking about sex remains largely taboo, the topics that shape the meetings focus on sexual education and intergenerational sex, as well as job searching, social mobility, respect for culture and older members of society, being successful in life and so on. All these topics are discussed in connection to HIV/AIDS.
This initiative is part of a wider AIDS program that focuses on prevention because many people in N’Djaména still don’t have access to the right information about HIV infection and transmission. While campaigns are organised for the general public, young people constitute the main target group. Representing more than 70% of the parish congregation, they are also the most vulnerable to HIV: the main theory that sustains the priority accorded to youth is that in the long run, reducing the HIV risk in the 14-to-24 age bracket will result in significant reduction of overall HIV prevalence, because this group is two to three times more exposed than any other in N’Djaména.
Among the activities organised are concerts, where people are invited to write and perform their own songs on a given theme, for example stigma or the family. Other initiatives include sessions on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) for women and training for leaders of the parish’s Small Christian Communities in HIV prevention.