Getting to Zero in Ghana

A group shot of the volunteer team in Takoradi during their World AIDS Day event.

Our time in Takoradi has been very successful with lots of help from the YMCA Vocational Training Institute, as well, as local community members/businesses. For the past four weeks we have been prepping and building up to World Aids Day that took place on November 26th 2012 at Trinity Presbyterian Church.  The event included six schools from the twin cities, Takoradi-Sekondi, with thirty students invited from five schools, while all of YMCA VTI was involved in the event. The event was put on in order to educate students on the topic of HIV and AIDS, as well, to decrease stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS – “Getting to zero”.

A big turn out for a great event.

The day was based around a cooking competition, which involved three teams consisting of three students from the YMCA VTI and two people living with HIV.  When the food was ready we had the teachers from each school come up to taste the food that had been made, after they tasted the food we let the audience know that there were both HIV negative and HIV positive people that were involved in the preparation of the food. This was our main event that was addressing the issue of stigma and people living with HIV in Ghana.  When doing workshops on HIV at the YMCA VTI it was clear that some of the students thought you could get HIV through food and drinks; a common misconception throughout Ghana.  For the event to have some more entertainment we had the students from each school sing/rap a song that was based around HIV and AIDS. Each school was given two songs to choose from and made them into their own.

Many speakers did their best to increase youth understanding of issues surrounding HIV in Ghana.

Throughout the day we had four guest speakers including; Dr. Sowah, Thomas (Nutritionist), Abu (Ghana Aids Commission), and Mr. Thompson (Vice President of HIV/AIDS Network). Dr. Sowah and Abu both spoke to educate the students of the transmission, prevention, and misconceptions of HIV/AIDS, while Thomas spoke on nutrition and the importance of a healthy lifestyle in order to prolong one’s life, if living with HIV.  Mr. Thompson spoke on the topic of living with HIV and AIDS, while also addressing the stigmatization around the topic.  The group of speakers were all very informative and educational, not only for the students, but the staff members involved.

A cooking contest was a key to the stigma reduction portion of the proceedings.

At the event we spoke on how important it is to know your own HIV status, in order to prevent transmission or prolonging your life if you are HIV positive. In order to make it available to the students we had two nurses come to do HIV tests on anyone who would like to get one.  We were hoping to get enough kits for all of the students but, unfortunately we were only able to receive 100 kits from Public Health, due to a shortage of kits nationwide.

Participants at this year’s event.

Overall the event was very successful even with a tight budget and time restrictions; with the help of our partner’s at the YMCA Vocational Training Institute we were able to create an educational and entertaining event for all participants involved.  We have been receiving positive feedback and hope that the next World Aids Day event hosted by Youth Challenge International and the YMCA can be bigger, to reach a larger audience.

-Carleigh Guiry, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2012

If you are interested in volunteering in Ghana in the upcoming year, Check out our 12-week project leaving this January or our 12 week project leaving next May. For information on all our overseas placements, check out our Program Calendar


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