Euloge Viho, Centre Espérance Loyola
Nearly 100 teenagers have attended a four-day workshop in peer education organised by the Centre Espérance Loyola (CEL – Loyola Hope Centre) in Lomé. The young people, aged between 14 and 19 years, were chosen from vocational and high schools in the neighbourhoods of Agoè-Nord and Agoè-Ouest of the capital of Togo. At the close of the workshop, they were missioned to become ambassadors of solid values and models of healthy living for their friends, and to spread reliable information about AIDS in their homes, families, schools and places of worship. They will enrol in anti-AIDS clubs in their schools.
The CEL invests heavily in forming young people to become men and women for others, instilling values and behaviours that are life-giving, responsible and compassionate. This investment is based on the conviction that the active involvement of young people is key to HIV prevention programs. The CEL is using AHAPPY for its youth work, an AJAN educational package of modules based on integral personal development.
On World AIDS Day 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) drew attention to the vulnerability of adolescents, especially girls, in sub-Saharan Africa. Levels of sexual activity are high among adolescents as an age group and they face a host of emotional and psychosocial pressures. They are less likely to get tested for HIV than adults and more likely to die of AIDS-related causes. This is because many of those living with HIV – including a generation of teenagers infected at birth – do not receive the care and support they need. In 2012, there were 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV worldwide. Millions more risk infection.
The modules of the youth workshop at the CEL imparted knowledge about the different dimensions of the human being and helped participants to better understand and master the changes that come about in their life in puberty and adolescence. They were also steeped in information about HIV/AIDS, routes of transmission and the most sure means of prevention.
Emphasis was placed on chastity through abstinence and the promotion of virginity as a means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. Those young people who were not yet sexually active were encouraged to remain so until they got married. Secondary virginity was presented as an option for the rest. All were invited to base their lives on the essential virtues of justice, temperance, strength and common sense so that they may succeed in their life project.