YOUTH BLOG: Empowering Myself
I am a 28 year old male from Mochudi, Botswana. I got to know my status in 2005 and at first, I was self-stigmatizing. I felt like it was the end of my life. At the time, a lot of people were dying from HIV. Now, I have accepted my status. I am caring for myself and I am encouraging others to know their status.
I heard about the Sentebale Botswana Youth Summit from a friend and I decided to attend because I expected to find other HIV infected young people. The summit was empowering – it was my first platform where people were free to talk and share experiences so openly. The environment was welcoming and we empowered each other. I am a Volunteer Counsellor at the prisons already, but the summit enhanced my knowledge in HIV issues.
The main lesson I learned is that there is still a lack of knowledge about HIV and that Sentebale should reach out to remote areas where the stigma is still rife. We need support groups in the villages with psychosocial support and it would be easy for Sentebale to deliver support to youth through support groups. Sentebale is doing a very good job and I am looking forward to the next gathering of young people.