5th Feb 2016 / Kampala Uganda
Founder and Team Leader: Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum
President: Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN East and Southern Africa)
14th Feb, is a day globally recognized by many as Valentine’s Day. The day when love birds express love to one another through various forms i.e. exchange of gifts, love messages, dinners among other things. Many young people in Uganda and probably in many other countries also don’t let this day go unnoticed. Many want to prove to their love partners how much they love them and they want to make them feel special and feel loved.
In Uganda Valentine’s day is one of those days where you will find hundreds of thousands of young people flocking to happening places at night, like; bars, pubs, clubs, cinemas, e.t.c to party, have fun and commemorate the day in style. One of our peer who preferred anonymity was quoted saying “ My Valentine’s Day begins at about 8pm when me and my friends flock our favorite hang out spots like bars to party and have fun with our loved ones”
On this years’ Valentines Day, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum UYAHF www.uyahf.com threw a Valentines Condom Party at Koko Bar and Lounge in Ntinda a favorite hang out spot for many young people around the Ntinda area suburb of Kampala Uganda’s capital.
The Valentines Condom Party was organized under our condom project entitled “Restock and Condomize”. Restock and Condomize is campaign that is aimed at breaking the stigma behind Condoms, by promote correct and consistent condom use and ensuring condom availability at the time of need among young people.
Praise Trust and Brian Wambede pledging to condomize
Today, With the increasing HIV/AIDS and STI infection among young people and increasing cases of unwanted pregnancies among young women, there is need to accelerate efforts and promote interventions that can prevent HIV infection and prevention of unwanted pregnancies especially among young people.
The Restock Condom campaign also aims at creating awareness among young people on the benefits of stocking condoms and using them correctly and consistently without any compromise and how this can prevent HIV and STI infections and also prevent un-wanted pregnancies among sexually active young girls.
At the party masses turned up as they celebrated the largely recognized the day of ‘Valentino’ and many could not in any way miss out from visiting our stall that was manned by our peer educators as they did both male and female condom education i.e demonstration and distribution.
As they did the education our peer educators retaliated the need, why one should stick to correct and consistent condom use in scenario that they are having sex with a partner with whom they do not know their HIV status and for a couple that is sexually active but does not want to get pregnant, noted Paul Webwoya one of our peers. We used the opportunity to educate to the young people that condoms are ffective in prevention of HIV, STIs and pregnancy if used effectively added Paul.
One of the cogs in the wheel retarding condom use among the youth is lack of confidence in communication especially at the access point. The young people also pointed out accessibility and affordability as challenges. One of the young people who also preferred anonymity was quoted saying, “ The easiest place we can access condoms is in shops and pharmacy as compared to the health center where the nurse will ask you what your gonna use it for. However, the best quality condoms like “O” condom, Life guard and protector are expensive. This therefore makes them inaccessible for us” Another young man whose name we could not get was quoted saying “ffe tetulina sente zakugula bintu ebyo…” meaning we don’t have money to buy the condoms.
Praise Trust the UYAHF Program Officer SRHR doing a Condom Demonstration session for some of the young people that turned up for the Valentines Condom Party.
The Condomize Valentine party was a success given the location and date, many young people enjoy hanging out and having fun in their circles but barely take precautionary measures about their health especially their sexual life. The essence of this party was particularly aiming at building young people’s confidence and sensitizing them about the values of effective use of condoms through correct and consistent use with no compromise.
I interacted with a number of guys who came along with their spouses to have fun in the bar, I could quickly realize that the ladies influenced their spouses to pick on the free condoms that we were giving out. “If I don’t care about my boyfriend, who will care…?” One said as she scooped a box of condoms from the table. At one point, a group of young guys called me in a more hidden corner adjacent to the table we were serving the condoms from, and one said, “…my brother, we need those gadgets but where you guys are, there is some light and we just can’t pick them from there. Please bring some here…” All these guys needed was confidence. This actually prompted us to minimize the lighting that was directed at some of distribution spot.
“Mbadde simanyi nti n’emu baala bagaba condomu, mwebale nyo…” literally meaning, I didn’t know that bars give out condoms, thank you very much UYAHF.
“Tubasangawa bwetuba nga twagala obuyambi bwamwe?” literally meaning, where do we get you in case we need more help from you?
“Tweyanziza okutuduukirira n’obuyambi buno” literally meaning, thank you for coming to our rescue with these life saving gadgets.
In total about 200 young people visited our different spots and we were able to distribute about 10,000 male condom and 2000 female condoms in a blink of 5 hours.
There are different social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram among others that can be used to preach the gospel of effective use of condoms especially among the youth. We managed to publicize and inform many young people about the Condomize Valentine Party using these platforms and the event was a success basing on the turn up.
Of recent, most of the clubs and public hangouts have also embraced condom use by pinning display boxes in bathrooms/restrooms. Still on the social media issue, while at the Condomize Valentine party, one young man approached me with his “smart phone” in the hand and proudly asked, “Can I get doorstep deliveries through whatsapp?” Of course I wasn’t going to deliver these condoms everywhere but I had a better idea to ease my workload. At the end of the discussion, he was in position to locate where to access condoms easily.