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'Life Skills' training motivates local youths, Fiji
3 June 2009

The UNESCO Youth Visioning HIV/AIDS and Life Skills training at Dakuivuna Village took place on 6-7 March 2009. About 55 young people (excluding adults) from 5 different villages participated in the two days training where issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS and Life Skills was discussed.

As project coordinator, this experience was a fulfilling one, and I was personally enriched listening to experiences shared by the facilitators and participants and the issues emanating from the group work and general discussions. All our participants are from the neighbouring villages, a few have acquired tertiary level education, some high school and the others primary school education. So the level of responses to the discussions varied, and the facilitators were able to pick out those who had acquired tertiary or high school education because they were better informed regarding HIV/AIDS issues.

'Life Skills' was a new concept to the majority of the participants. The facilitators basically spoke on issues of positive youth participation in the community, maintaining open and good communication channels starting from the family and making good choices on a daily basis. Active participation by youth in the family, clans, village, right up to the provincial organized activities will greatly enhance older people’s respect and trust in young people.

Workshop facilitators reiterated that this process also applies to rural youth involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS and STIs. Sekove Delai, Adolescent Health Development Project Officer, Korovou Hospital and EPI Project Officer Central/Eastern Sister Penina Druavesi encouraged participants to be agents of positive change and information in their society, sharing knowledge and skills gained over the past two days with their peers, family members and members of their communities. Group work and discussions throughout the first day of the workshop gave the opportunity for young people to discuss, debate and learn basic information like the difference between HIV and AIDS, the modes of transmission of HIV, (proper) use of contraception and issues of testing and counselling.

As project coordinator, I personally believe that education is essential if we are to effectively combat associated youth problems like drug and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, unemployment and the spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs. Policy makers, governments and those at the helm of leadership in society must invest in educating their young people so they are equipped with the right information about health, sexuality and life in general. Sekove Delai gave an example during the training of Dakuivuna Village with no record of STI case in 2008. Sekove had done a HIV/AIDS and STI session with the Dakuivuna youth in early March 2008 as part of the Capacity Building and Youth Empowerment workshop sponsored by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. In 2007, Korovou Hospital staff were also guests at the Dakuivuna Methodist Youth Fellowship gathering and spoke on the very same subject. The other villages in the Tailevu North province recorded STI cases, and one of the highest was Malabi, a village that was part of the training.

For your information, Fiji was badly hit by floods in January earlier this year. Three of the four villages that participated in the workshop were severely hit by the floods. Two youth were killed at the height of the flooding. So the workshop also helped to motivate these young people in a big way, and just getting them back on their feet. I had informal discussions with some of them during the workshop and they stated that after hearing the facilitators, they were really motivated to progress after the set back in January.

I'd like to reiterate my sincere gratitude to UNESCO and Youth Visioning for their unwavering support that enabled the successful completion of the project in my village.

Vinaka Vakalevu & Kind Regards
Luisa

>> Read the Final Report [PDF 71Kb]
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Project leader Luisa Senibulu


This page last updated: 3 June 2009