The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the 20 most populous countries in the world, which means an HIV prevalence rate of 1.1% translates into almost 500 million people living with HIV. A country already hard hit by the disease, significant poverty and on-going conflict contribute to limited health services and increased vulnerability to the virus.
Virginie Lubino, an occupational therapist from Canada, lived and worked in sub-Saharan Africa for a year and a half. While in the DRC, Ms. Lubino integrated the TeachAIDS educational materials into her efforts with local youth in Lubumbashi. She designed a training for former street children and adolescents living at the Bankanja and Magone Centers. The centers, run by the Salesians of Don Bosco, provide education and professional training to these young residents.
Ms. Lubino conducted two four-day training sessions for 30 teenagers, focused primarily on substance use and HIV prevention. The training included a full day of comprehensive education on HIV and AIDS. To enhance learning, Ms. Lubino paused the TeachAIDS tutorials to ensure the youth were understanding the content as well as created her own posters in French to reinforce the key lessons and concepts.
After teaching basic information about HIV, the young people combined efforts to identify strategies to reduce risky behaviors and protect themselves. She said, “The group was focused and very interested in the information. They asked a lot of questions, they did all the activities with great enthusiasm, they were very motivated to learn.”
Following the program, Virginie was interviewed by the local TV news to explain the training. She credited the success in part to the TeachAIDS animations, saying, “TeachAIDS day was so useful and everything worked perfectly. The activities allowed them first to understand the severity of the topic, while having fun at the same time.”
With the support of Ms. Lubino, other local organizations in the DRC, such as the Katanga chapter of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have utilized the TeachAIDS materials, with MSF using the TeachAIDS Swahili version with their Congolese staff.
TeachAIDS applauds the efforts of individuals like Ms. Lubino who are working tirelessly to empower youth with the information they need to lead healthy lives.
Photo: Left: Virginie Lubino integrates the TeachAIDS materials into her training for former street children and adolescents living at the Bankanja and Magone Centers in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Right: One of her students shares the three steps of the Triangle Test to assess if a person is at risk of infection.