YOUTH BLOG: Becoming a Let Youth Lead Advocate
Inspired by his time as a camp volunteer, Bakang Itumeleng Garebatho joined Sentebale’s Let Youth Lead programme in Botswana in 2018. Here, he tells us what being a youth advocate means to him, and his vision for the future.
“Having lost my parents to AIDS at a young age, it turned me into the young man I am, and I hope it will also make me the man I wish to become in the future. I want to change the mind set of people and how they view people who are HIV positive, irrespective of how you got infected.
I also want to help show that one can still have a normal life even if they are infected. We are living in an era where one’s HIV status shouldn’t matter. I want to help those who are infected to know that, even if they are infected, they can still have a normal life.
Recently, while I was at camp Sentebale, I noticed that there were some children who had a hard time coming to terms with being infecte,d and I took it upon myself to disclose to them – to show them that even I am living with HIV, and have been able to overcome some of the challenges they feel are mountains.
I want to see myself helping other young people who are living with HIV in any way I possibly can. I spent the past year thinking that I want to be an accountant, however I realised that it is not a path for me. I intend on completing accounting course because I believe the skills will come in handy with the business I hope to start. I want to enter the world of business because I feel it would give me the time and resources to push the advocacy work I dream of.
I dream of a world where Botswana becomes united and we all lend a helping hand to anyone in need more especially those living with HIV. My vision for the world is where stigma and discrimination are a thing of the past.”
About Let Youth Lead
In April 2017, Sentebale launched the Let Youth Lead advocacy programme, aimed at encouraging all youth in southern Africa to know and manage their HIV status by 2020.
Through youth-led campaigning and advocacy, the programme allows the voices of youth affected by HIV/AIDS to be heard, addressing the lack of youth-friendly health services and limited sexual reproductive health taught in schools, and to strengthen leaders’ commitments to deliver HIV interventions that better support the needs of young people in the region.