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Kenya: AIDS-affected teenagers love the AJAN youth program

The students of St Aloysius Secondary School in Nairobi are AIDS-affected teenagers from Kibera, one of the biggest slums in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the students have lost both parents; the minority has a surviving parent who is living with AIDS. St Al’s is one of the schools that piloted the AJAN HIV&AIDS Prevention Program for Youth (AHAPPY) program. Fr Terry Charlton SJ, co-founder and chaplain of St Al’s, writes about the success of AHAPPY at the school:

Our use of the AJAN AHAPPY program for Education for Life culminated in our own AIDS Awareness Day on 9 November in anticipation of World AIDS Day on 1 December. Our staff and students began the day with a march for awareness through Kibera, replete with special t-shirts and banners. The day continued at the school with activities, such as skits and songs, to which students from nearby schools were invited.

We are so happy to have been one of the institutions to pilot AHAPPY, particularly since we were able to introduce it through our family groupings of one staff member and 12 students each. We were really pleased with this program which is so Ignatian, so holistic and so effective in its pedagogical methodology. At the evaluation we had with the group of Form 4s I was part of, I could not get the students to come up with anything negative about the program except that they wished it was not ending for them. All was praise about information received but much more about the vision inculcated of their place in the world and of themselves as actors, with such important decisions to make, with such serious consequences for themselves and others.

Not incidentally, I was asked to preside at the Eucharist for the closing of a training workshop run by AJAN on AHAPPY at Savelberg Retreat Centre on 20 November. I only learned who the participants were upon my arrival, and I was overjoyed to discover that there were representatives being trained from each of the secondary schools of the Jesuit Eastern Africa Province as well as from Jesuit Hakimani Centre and the Loreto Sisters’ network of schools. It is wonderful to anticipate the implementation of AHAPPY throughout the province.

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