1. What is the health situation in Zambia?
Zambia is one of the most affected countries in Southern Africa suffering from HIV/AIDS. The 2012 Kitwe District Aids Task Force (DAFT) report, states that Kitwe district has the second highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in Zambia, second to Livingstone. The HIV infection rate stands at nearly 24% in the sexually active age group (14 to 50 years). The infection rates are not expected to decrease significantly in many years to come. Local churches have started confronting the challenge in preventing HIV/AIDS, but much more needs to be done. Clearly, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has become a challenging developmental problem today and the capacity to cope with ever cumulative effects of poverty, disease and dependence has become unbearable. The health specific problems that PLAEP has identified in its surrounding communities includes the following:
- Less information on HIV/AIDS is reaching the church community particularly the youths
- Poverty is the driving force that puts the young girls at risk in contracting HIV infection because of transactional sexual activities
- Many children have lost one parent or both due to HIV/AIDS
- There is an increase in child headed households
- In some provinces of Zambia sentinel surveys show an increase in HIV prevalence e.g. Copperbelt Province. Youths are highly exposed and vulnerable to alcohol and other drug abuse and gender based violence.
2. What are the Be Faithful and Abstain (BEFA) games?
In view of the escalating HIV/AIDS problem PLAEP project has piloted the BEFA games project to specifically address the youth in churches, schools and other community groups about the dangers of HIV and how they can be protected to become healthy productive youths. It aims:
- To impart knowledge and correct information about HIV/AIDS, how it is transmitted and prevented;
- To provide information to the youth on risks and behaviors that predispose them to HIV infection such as alcohol and other drugs abuse, economic vulnerability, gender based violence, violence against children, mental health and gender;
- To train youths as peer educators to disseminate HIV/AIDS information to church youth groups and other youth community groups;
- To train youth counselors in all PLAEP targeted communities;
- To implement BEFA games in all PLAEP targeted communities.
The BEFA games program on HIV/AIDS prevention is undertaken by PLAEP in four surrounding areas including Musonda, Kwacha, Bulangililo and Chipata compounds (communities). The project initiated its first implementation from March to May in 2012.
Almost every Saturday, about 200 youth gathered at Faith Baptist Church sports grounds in Riverside, where youths from different churches competed in football and netball. Before the games kicked off, the youth were organized in small groups of not more than 25 people to ensure effective interaction. Peer educators then conducted health talks with the youth in their group.
At the end of the tournament, PLAEP presented various awards such as certificates of participation for each team, first position, most organized team and best player of the tournament as a way to motivate the youth to participate. The games were a huge success. The participation from the youth was overwhelming. Every weekend they turned up for the games. They appreciated the dual benefit of participating in sports as well as obtaining information on HIV education.
3. What are the opportunities at the BEFA Games?
- BEFA games project is a model to churches and other community youth groups
- Many youths are kept busy with games and have less time to indulge themselves in health risky activities and behaviors
- Exercises promote good health by keeping the youths physically fit
- Youths have an opportunity to learn about abstinence through HIV/AIDS health education through sport
- BEFA games is an opportunity to empower some individual youths, who may excel in games of their own choice, to provide their livelihood through joining other clubs
4. How can you be involved in the BEFA games?
- Donate financially to help support the running and sustaining of this event
- Contribute your sports skills, knowledge and ideas by participating or leading the BEFA games
- Help find and develop HIV/AIDS prevention materials and curriculum to be disseminated at the BEFA games
- Pray for the peer educators facilitating discussions as well as the youth that will participate
Contact: Prisca Kambole, Executive Director
Office located at Superior Technologies, Silicon House Annex, Kantanta Street, Kitwe, Zambia