March 31, 2003 - The Eagle Online: RPCV Christy Nichols leads youth to work in HIV/AIDS education in Zambia

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 7:02 am: Edit Post

RPCV Christy Nichols leads youth to work in HIV/AIDS education in Zambia





Read and comment on this story from The Eagle Online on RPCV Christy Nichols who is leading youth to work in HIV/AIDS education in Zambia where she served as a volunteer. In all, 15 students will travel to Zambia in late May to work with the non-governmental group the Youth Activist Organization that addresses issues of sexual and reproductive health in Zambia among 14-24 year olds,. Trip participants will work in the areas of HIV/AIDS education for youth and advocacy in the capital Lusaka and in a village in northern Zambia. Read the story at:

Summer in Zambia*

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Summer in Zambia
Students learn about HIV/AIDS, prepare for trip
By MAYA WODNICKA and LISA PICKOFF-WHITE
Eagle Contributing Writer
Monday, March 31, 2003

AU students preparing for a trip to Zambia began cultural training Saturday night with members of the Washington, D.C. Zambian community in Kay Spiritual Life Center.

In all, 15 AU students will travel to Zambia in late May to work with the non-governmental group the Youth Activist Organization that addresses issues of sexual and reproductive health in Zambia among 14-24 year olds, according to organizer and International Student Services International Student Advisor Christy Nichols.

Trip participants will work in the areas of HIV/AIDS education for youth and advocacy in the capital Lusaka and in a village in northern Zambia.

"AIDS is a huge problem," Nichols said. "U.N. statistics have shown that the HIV-positive rate is around 23 percent, but most people think it is actually higher."

Some 1.2 million Zambians are known to be infected with HIV/AIDS, according to www.reliefweb.int, although this is most likely not an accurate number because it is difficult to count every person who might be infected.

Nichols invited Zambians from the area to share traditional cuisine, to discuss customs and to demonstrate traditional dancing from various regions of Zambia Saturday.

Around 30 students, not all of whom will travel to Zambia, took part in the cultural experience and had the opportunity to ask questions about the culture and customs.

One Zambian woman, who asked not to be named, told students that the problem of HIV/AIDS is rampant.

"Every time someone dies, itís from AIDS," she said. "Itís become one of those common diseases. If you have money, you can get care, if you are poor, you just die."

Testing is difficult, as testing does not reach everyone, according to Nichols.

Having HIV/AIDS can be considered a result of witchcraft, according to traditional beliefs, so people are reluctant to admit that they are infected or to be tested, she said.

"That is a big part of the problem," Nichols said.

The trip was organized by members of the Office of International Student Services and will be headed by Nichols, who served in the Peace Corps for three years in Zambia.

Nichols will be joined by SIS graduate advisor Mary Barton.

"We were talking in the office about doing something with the alternative spring breaks and we wanted to go somewhere for longer," Nichols said. "Africa came up and a few of us had lived there, so we decided to try it."

Nichols herself had contact with YAO during her years in the Peace Corps and took up contact with the organization again for this project.

Students will shadow YAO workers, all of whom are under 25, and then participate in some training and education sessions.

"The students will undergo HIV/AIDS education training, logistical training, in addition to cultural training like tonight," Nichols said.

SIS senior Mary Bobbitt was drawn to the program because of her interest in policy issues in Africa.

"I have done a lot of work on lobbying in Nigeria and I have an interest in Africa in general," she said. "This way, I can get a taste of a part of Africa and do something helpful at the same time."

The travelers will work with YAO counterparts, according to Nichols.

Several will work with AIDS orphans and street children, others will work with prostitutes, in a clinic, and some with lawyers promoting patient rights, she said.

"We have a diverse group, in age and nationality," Nichols said. "We have students from Japan and France and people of all age groups."

"I have had friends that died of AIDS," Nichols said. "I wanted to give people the chance to see first hand the problem and to raise awareness."

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Zambia; AIDS education; Service; Youth Activitism

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By kdhboard (66.36.212.60) on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 11:42 am: Edit Post

I would like to known what former PCVs from Kasempa,Zambia, Africa, more so those who operated in the Health programme are doing. Management would like to link up with then so to share with them.


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