It’s JULY; Talking about the importance of Adherence: Life Skills and ARVs…

5 08 2011

This month’s post was written by Jenny Shaw,  a volunteer from England who has come with the organisation Skillshare to help with Swaziland Teen Club for 3 months. Here is her account…

So it’s July now, the sun is still shining, and so much has been going on at Swaziland Teen Club! In Mbabane, Manzini, and Hlatikhulu, the Teens have started sessions on Adherence and Life Skills. Led by the Teen Leaders all the teens have been able to engage in peer-to-peer discussions about what it’s like living with HIV, and how to keep themselves and loved ones strong and safe.

The sun shines at Manzini Teen Club

"And dance and dance and dance and dance and show your happiness..."

One of the new girls bravely explained that she knew she had the virus because the doctors told her so but no one had talked to her about why or what HIV was… At Hlatikhulu the talks went on and we had to miss the Around The World game the Teens had trialled and tested at Manzini and Mbabane Teen Clubs because the discussion brought up more and more about living with HIV and everyone wanted to talk about how this endemic condition effected their lives. We’ll be working on new exciting ways to look at Disclosure next month as Teen Club know how important it is to young people to understand lives. One Dlamini laughed at the sad way some people talked only negatively about HIV and said he was “glad to have a place to talk about the positive things with friends which gave hope.”

The Teen Leaders were real advocates empowering the groups to talk about when and how they were disclosed to, sharing their knowledge and experience with the younger or new teens. It made me feel really proud of them to see, although I know all the credit is all theirs for being such ace friends together with the Teen Club members!

Manzini piloted the Around The World flag building team quiz game, working collectively to answer Life Skills and ART questions surrounding living life as a HIV positive teen. Every correct answer gains a nation’s flag piece to get the team closer to a new destination. The games were pretty hectic as at Mbabane and Manzini there are over two hundred teens all competing to answer questions, build the country flags (of Australia; India; Paraguay, and Portugal), and learn about the facts of their mystery destinations.

Whilst learning about life skills and ARVs, Swaziland Teen Club had new guests from afar! Visitors from the Taipei Medical University in Taiwan came to say hello to all the Teens, enthusiastically joining in on all the fun and adding to our community of international volunteers promoting HIV hope and strength through awareness in Swaziland Teen Club activities. The joyful singing on the chairs, through the windows, in the reception, and throughout the crowd was so strong, I actually nearly fell off the chair trying to sign the actions to “The World’s Greatest” along with all the UK, American, Japanese, Canadian, Taiwanese and Swazi teens and volunteers!


Playing games

Working through the week with partner organisations and at Baylor Clinic is worth it every time I meet the Teens on Saturdays, and in August the  Swaziland Teen Clubs of Mbabane, Manzini, Hlatikhulu and Siphofaneni have Camp Sivivane and Tele-Conferencing with New York HIV&AIDS support groups to look forward to. I am so very excited for my coming August volunteering with all the Swazi Youth here at Baylor and Teen Club. See you soon guys!

"I'm the World's Greatest"