Smiling faces

A photo of smiling African kids risks being a bit clichéd, but what I loved about this one was how within a second of me lifting the camera they all rushed towards me and straight into a pose.

We were visiting one of the schools in which we’re funding the training of teachers, and through them, kids as “peer educators” in HIV/AIDS awareness. It’s a pilot programme that seems to have been fairly successful – despite some resistance to raising the subject already at primary level. But this is clearly the place to be talking about it: primary level here goes up to 13 years of age, and in reality sometimes 14 or 15; and less than 10% of primary kids get past the 7th grade – never mind go on to secondary education. Tanzania isn’t affected to the same extremes as Southern Africa by HIV/AIDS, but it’s still bad: 6% of 15-49 year-olds are infected, and the rates of infection are highest among the young.

Another interesting AIDS project I heard about recently is the USA-funded Jipende programme  that uses beauty salons – in high-risk neighbourhoods – as a place to tell women about HIV prevention and to sell condoms. It got lots of coverage thanks to George W Bush’s visit to one salon a few weeks ago.  He may have made a shambles of a lot of other things, but at least he’s doing genuine work in this context.

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