The youth in Aboke had an idea about how to help their community stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, but they could not find the support to turn their vision into a reality.
Twenty-two youth established themselves as the Aboke Drama Youth Group (ADYG). They wanted to use drama ‘to ensure that HIV awareness is created among the community so that they can prevent more infection’, according to Paul, the Chairperson of ADYG. Even with a noble cause and great idea, they had to continue ‘begging from the NGOs or for NGO support’. Their dependence on NGO donations took away from their image as strong, exemplary youth, leading them to try to generate their own income to support the group. The added strain on members already facing their own challenges with HIV/AIDS, caused some to leave. ADYG was on the brink of dissolution.
The Aboke Drama Youth Group was finally recognized for it’s potential by CAP/AIDS Uganda. ADYG was enlisted for CAP/AIDS Grassroots Empowerment program, after which drama volunteer Wayne Jasper says ‘we were given transport, in terms of bicycles, to help us reach communities, talk to the patients,… counseling them.’ The Grassroots Empowerment support went beyond just monetary donations, giving ADYG the tools to continue their work without financial dependence. It was also more than just transportation, including training on HIV/AIDS awareness, showing how local organizations could ‘sensitize them on the dangers of HIV/AIDS and how one can overcome them.’ Now fully equipped, the drama team was able to successfully reach out to their community through captivating performances with a key message about HIV/AIDS including preventing further spread of the virus, and challenging harmful stigma against HIV/AIDS affected members of the community.
As a result of ADYG’s work, communities were being voluntarily tested for HIV, by a medical practionner brought by CAP/AIDS. So, Aboke Drama Youth Group is at last able to achieve their goal in preventing HIV/AIDS: ‘to leave a community that knows their status.’ By empowering such a capable, local group, the people affected and infected are offered the opportunity to change their community.