White Orange Youth aims to reduce the spread of HIV/Aids and increase the quality of life of young people and other at-risk groups in Kilimanjaro region by educating them through their peers. Working with young people, commercial sex workers and drug users, the organization uses peer education to spread the use of positive practices and to dispel common myths around the disease, with the aim of raising a generation, well educated about the disease and so able to thrive and achieve their life goals, while supporting those around them to do the same.
My Name is John Kessy and I am Co-Founder and Director of White Orange Youth. Gamaliel Robert Mbalase is our Co-Founder and Program Coordinator.
WOY works in Moshi, a town in Northern Tanzania on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro with a population of around 200,000. We work in both urban and rural communities around the town. The majority of people who live in these communities are informally employed, either running small businesses or making a living from agricultural activities.
WOY provides HIV/AIDS education to young people, both in and out of school. All of the work we do is based on volunteer peer-to-peer education. This is based on the fact that many young people get their information about sexual health, life-goals and relationship advice from their peers. If those peers are giving out good advice, then young people will avoid following poor guidance and the difficult situations that may follow. We also provide psychosocial support to children and their care takers as well as HIV/AIDS prevention education to at-risk groups, including commercial sex workers, drug users. We also provide life skill education to young people, so that they can move forward well in life after they leave our peer-education program. We strive for all of our programs to be transparent, participatory focused and sustainable.
Our vision in all of this is to see our community dedicated and working hard to improving their own quality of life – improving their own health, education and ultimately, eradicating poverty themselves.
I am passionate about changing the lives of young people, and I think this can be traced back to when I was a child. I was the first born in my family and found that I naturally had a responsibility to lead my younger brothers and sister. When I was at school, I was chosen as a class monitor and later a school prefect, a role in which I come to realize my leadership gifts. After my secondary school I joined the National Youth Forum, in which we discussed lot about how young people can be agents of change and inspiration in Tanzania, and since then I have been motivated to lead young people to change their communities, which also lead to establish the White Orange Youth and help youth to overcome their challenges.
There have been times that the need for donor funds have forced us to change our organizational direction and priorities, just to meet the demands of a donor, which really reduces local agency and our ability to really make an impact, so it is very important to us to become financially sustainable. We have experienced that depending on resources from donors can limit us doing what we need to do. Having the possibility for financial sustainability will ensure WOY program sustainability and organizational sustainability.
Peer Education Program
In our peer education program, we work with young people between the ages of 11 and 35.
This group is divided into ‘In-School’ and ‘Out of School’ young people. In school being ages 11 – 14 (Primary) and 14 – 18 (Secondary). Out of school is any child out of school, or those above school age.
Young people who have either left school or are in a higher stage of school go through an intensive 5-7 day training (length depends on funding), during which they are taught to teach their peers about the following:
- HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Life skills
- Overcoming peer pressure
- Relationship Skills
- Reproductive Health
- Drug abuse
After this, it is the young people themselves (trained peer educators) that actually go into the schools and do after school 1 – 1.5 hour workshops with the students.
Out Of School Program
This program has similar content to the in-school program, but is delivered in a way relevant to the needs and age group we are working with.
Community Outreach Events – To sensitise the community about HIV/Aids prevention and to reduce stigma, we also run community outreach events in villages on market days, which involve participatory drama/dance/discussion/comedy, all with an educational goal. We partner with other health organisations to carry out mobile HIV testing on these days too. The anonymity of the outreach days allows people the freedom to get tested without their neighbours knowing the outcome.
Income Generating Project – Piggery
The aim of this project is to generate financial income that will be used to cover the costs of running all of the various HIV education projects of White orange Youth.
In partnership with Mama Hope, we have constructed of pig pen at Uru Mrawi village. The project will raise pigs and piglets that will be sold to people in the village and neighborhood.
We aim to expand this project in the future by buying our own land and build big pig pen, adding poultry and a fish pond to increase our income even more. We are also aiming to reach broader audience so that we can build further into our own local financial sustainability.
Joseph Venansi is 15 years old and lives with his family in Moshi town. His parents have informal jobs, his father delivering goods to people with a wheelbarrow and his mother selling wheat and cereals at the market when the harvest is good. Despite the struggles they face, they work hard to give their children the support they need, from education to meals to clothes.
A few years ago, Joseph joined our psychosocial support and care children’s club. In the club, as part of the life-skills element of our programs, Joseph has learnt computer skills and has really taken to it. He tells us that that has been one of his favorite things about being part of the club.
We also work with the young people on ‘Hero Books’, where they fill in a book with illustrations and writings about their life goals, helping them to understand the steps they will have to take to reach them. Joseph wants to be a medical doctor, and he has told us that making his Hero Book has really helped him to understand what steps he needs to take to achieve that.
“These things motivate me to participate in to the club. I advise other kids to be more active and passionate and one day they will able to count the benefit” he said.
Despite the challenges Joseph has faced in his life, Joseph is happy, kind and determined.