GCA Participates in International Youth Day
On August 12th, International Youth Day, GCA participated in a Twitter chat to celebrate the opportunities that we share with our campers to make a lasting impact in their communities. This past June, campers at our Youth Clubs celebrated Youth Day in South Africa and counselors taught the campers about the brave actions taken during the Soweto Uprising in 1975.
The day commemorates the youth of South Africa started country-wide protests known as the Soweto Uprising of 1976. The Bantu Education Act and the government edict in 1974 demanded that the Afrikaans language be used when teaching certain subject in black schools. The Soweto Uprising is often represented by the iconic picture of Hector Pieterson, a black schoolchild shot by the police, demonstrating the brutality of the Apartheid government.
At the Youth Clubs celebration of Youth Day, the counselors stressed the importance of a former generation of South African youth who created the freedom of education the campers enjoy today. The campers were reminded that the uprising against the government system came at a sacrifice and many students and child protestors of 1976 died in the process.
During the International Youth Day chat many important questions, just like those that faced the children of South Africa in 1976, were discussed. What can youth do to make a difference? How can they be heard? To read GCA’s tweets during the chat, follow us on Twitter.
Please join Global Camps Africa at Anthology Film Archives in New York on Thursday, November 6th, for a special screening of David France's "How to Survive a Plague," acclaimed Academy Award-nominated documentary of two coalitions -- ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) -- whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition that saved millions of lives. A very special guest panel will follow the screening.
Reports from the Field:
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline is coming up in 2015 and although there is still much to be done in the approximately 500 days left before the deadline, it is wonderful to know what this world commitment has accomplished already. According to the Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development, in a Huffington Post blog, some of the incredible accomplishments in the past 20 years have included the reduction of the child mortality rates by two thirds and an increase of women using modern contraception since 2005 from 10% to 45%. However, as the article says: “this is only a taste of what we can accomplish,” and with less than 500 days until deadline, it’s even more important that we work together and support one another to achieve the MDGs.
Camp Sizanani Youth Clubs have continued to help reach our MDGs through HIV/AIDS prevention education and continuing education youth camps in South Africa. The 2015 Millennium Development Goals for HIV/AIDS prevention are:
- to prevent people becoming infected with HIV – helping to change behaviors to reduce HIV risks; increasing access to prevention commodities; supporting programs for prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV; promoting safe blood supplies and prevention of HIV transmission in health care settings; assessing new prevention technologies;
- to expand the availability of treatment;
- to provide the best care for people living with HIV/ AIDS and their families;
- to expand access and uptake of HIV testing and counseling so that people can learn their HIV status;
- to strengthen health care systems so that they can deliver quality and sustainable HIV/AIDS programs and services; and
- to improve HIV/AIDS information systems, including HIV surveillance, monitoring and evaluation and operational research.
By empowering the vulnerable youth in South Africa with knowledge about HIV/AIDS, our campers are encouraged and equipped to surpass their community’s expectations for them and grow up to lead healthy, productive lives.
Recently, Camp Sizanani Youth Clubs have engaged campers in life skills activities focused on the children’s awareness and understanding of the impact their decisions may have on society, both in South Africa and globally.
In one session campers were divided into four groups and given different topics to discuss and present to entire group. They discussed HIV/AIDS, puberty, drugs and alcohol, and human rights. Each camper discussed different perspectives on the topic, as in a debate. At the end of the session, each camper understood more about all of the topics as well and could see clearly how all of the concepts fit together.
In another session the campers had an in-depth discussion about alcohol abuse. It began as a question and answer session where the campers raised many important points about how alcohol abuse may increase the risk of HIV infection and unwanted pregnancy. They agreed that consuming alcohol is a choice, and that the results of drinking have a larger impact than what they see.
Following the discussion there was a trust activity where campers were blindfolded and had to relate that feeling to being under the influence of alcohol. Many of the campers realized that being drunk is similar to being blind, which can leave them at risk of being hit by a car, being mugged, and making poor choices that can leave them at risk for contracting HIV. The counselors stressed the importance of not giving in to peer pressure because the costs of their actions could be so significant.
These life skills sessions empower our campers to take their decisions into their own hands and help them achieve the first Millennium Development Goal; change behaviors to reduce HIV risks. Our efforts to educate and create trust and meaningful relationships with our campers can bring us one step closer to reaching the MDGs in the next 500 days.
We're almost there! You can help campers just like Phili, who attended Camp Sizanani when she was 14, participate in a transformative life experience. If you donate today and we can raise another $22,825 to reach our $75,000 goal, GCA will expand Camp Sizanani into Limpopo Province, empowering 120 more children and helping create a generation of South African youth free of HIV.