By: Claire Whitty, Jillian Head and Caroline Kent
As a final culminating activity, the Takoradi team – with the help of Nicole and Judy from Koforidua – put together a World AIDS Day event on December 1st. The theme of our event was “stamping out stigma.” Therefore, the main event was a cooking competition involving both students from three senior high schools in Takoradi and people living with HIV (PLHIV). The objective was to get the students to understand that certain myths about HIV are untrue. Many students in Takoradi believe that one can contract HIV from being near or sharing food or utensils with a person living with HIV. By having the students cooking together with PLHIV at such a large-scale event we hoped to erase this belief.
The competition went very well. The students were very professional and cooked amazing meals, including both local and international dishes. Four judges assessed the teams based on taste, texture, appearance, presentation, hygiene and teamwork. At the very end all the students attending the event were invited to try the dishes prepared by their classmates.
Other activities featured at the event included an HIV-themed song and dance competition involving the students from all three schools, guest speakers from the Ghana AIDS Commission, Association of People Living with HIV and a Doctor who all spoke to the students about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and the stigma that PLHIV live with daily. We also had condom demonstration booths and information packets for the students.
Overall, the day went smoothly and the students seemed to really enjoy themselves. They asked lots of great questions and were very engaged. They were particularly lively during the song and dance competition. It was evident they had put a lot of work into creating original pieces that conveyed messages about HIV. All of the students who participated in the cooking competition were awarded a prize and a certificate of achievement.
We believe that the impact of the event will reach beyond the attendees and that they will spread awareness about stigma-reduction and myth-busting throughout their schools and communities. We hope that this event will take place again in the future. It is a great learning opportunity for students living in the Takoradi area, as well as a fun social event for the community!
Claire, Caroline and Jillian are Youth Ambassadors currently working with YCI in Takoradi, Ghana.
To learn more about YCI’s ambassador programs in Ghana, Tanzania, and Costa Rica, check out our program calendar.