About African Youth Outreach

african childrenAfrican Youth Outreach is a nonprofit non-governmental secular organization formed with the aim of sustained HIV education of at-risk children and young adults in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa.

This region has the highest prevalence of HIV (estimated 33% - UNAIDS December 2003 Report), and the most persistent problems with poverty, unemployment, and violent crime. Children, and in particular women, are at increased risk for acquiring HIV as they become sexually active with little understanding of how HIV is transmitted. Rates of condom use are alarmingly low.

Our organization will operate in concert with Ingwavuma Orphan Care, a group based in KwaZulu-Natal that works as a support network for children whose parents have died from AIDS. This group also provides teaching through a life-skills program designed to provide basic education, self-esteem building, and guidance to the orphans under their care.

The goal is to provide HIV education to at-risk children and young adults in the target age group of 9-21. The education will be based on HIV transmission, prevention, and treatment options, as well as instruction into the damage caused by the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. The curriculum will be developed with the help of local physicians and translators. The teaching program will benefit from the input of schoolteachers and community leaders. In return, training will be provided to teachers to ensure children in schools are receiving the proper information. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of delaying the age of onset of sexual activity and making reasoned decisions, as well as the importance of condoms in preventing transmission.

Physicians and instructors specializing in sexually transmitted diseases will provide training to peer educators, selected from the at-risk groups. The training sessions will have minimal lectures and will be based on group learning, discussion, and role-playing, with suggestions from the peer educators into how the training can be structured. In-services will be provided every other month for peer educators and health teachers within the school system to maintain knowledge and introduce new developments.

The peer educators will be compensated for their work, ensuring both a steady income for them and their family, as well as sustaining the education in the community. Surveys will be performed on an annual or biannual basis measuring the effectiveness of this peer educator based teaching, for publishing in medical journals. The test subjects will be randomly selected in the schools and community, to reflect the broad target of this program.

Venues for teaching may include schools (with the assistance of teachers and community leaders), village gatherings, community centers, and businesses. Until the project can be expanded, the goal of the organization will remain the steady supply of HIV education for a given community.