The HIV/AIDS pandemic represents potentially one of the most disruptive threats to Rwanda’s social and economic development. While HIV/AIDS was once considered mostly a “health” problem, policy-makers in Rwanda increasingly acknowledge that HIV/AIDS is wreaking havoc on the economy as well as on an ever-widening portion of the population. The Rwandan genocide of 1994 against the Tutsi increased the risk of HIV infection as thousands of survivors contracted the virus as a result of systematic sexual violence and rape against girls and women. 24 years today after the genocide, its estimated that over 210,000 people are HIV positive out of the 12million total population. (UNAIDS 2014).
In spite of this reality, most service delivery programs have no holistic and sustainable interventions to address this issue. The HIV positive young adults are sidelined, stigmatized, as many believe that it’s not worth investing in them. Even with the success treatment of antiretroviral therapy (ART), most communities and people still think they have low life expectancy and will die soon. They are still seen as objects of charity, and burdens to the society. This has created a scenario where young adults continue to see HIV as a death sentence.
The program of “Dream Village”, tailors the training to the needs of each participant. This is an area that is essential to bring a future to the HIV positive youth. Our interventions also supplement on the government programs and other interventions done by civil organizations and NGOS in the same field. Dream village long term objective is to enable the HIV positive young adults and youth realize their dreams and dare I say, unlocking their full potential, and swim against the flow of charity and institutional model. There is lots of opportunity to create a unique expedition in Rwanda for leaders living positively with HIV.
We dream of a Rwanda in which people who are HIV positive, are seen as change agents and not as objects of charity. To achieve this we provide a centre in which people living with HIV are empowered to create positive social change. This centre runs a one year empowerment program as well as other short courses which all tailored to support the capacity of HIV Positive young adults to reach their full potential. These empowered adolescents and youth will start social projects in their communities which can improve their personal well-being as well as the communities around them. This will see them being active partners rather than passive recipients since as survivors, they have overcome many huddles in life.
This one year program is based on the kanthari leadership program for social change (www.kanthari.org).