International Award Holders
to become the first Read More
Christian Aid partner, Women’s Christian Union of Angola, received the International Diana Award for their ‘Girls Building Bridges’ project and their work on HIV awareness in the Angolan capital city, Luanda.
The 12 teenage girls, aged between 11- and 15-years-old, receieved the award for their commitment to improving HIV awareness among young women in their communities and challenging the stigma and discrimination associated with the virus. Despite official estimates that national HIV prevalence rates in Angola are between two and four per cent, some heath centres in Luanda are reporting rates of up to 20%, particularly amongst young people, with new cases presenting every day.
“We are really proud that Girls Building Bridges are the first Angolans to receive the International Diana Award,” said Tuiku Kiakayama Elisa, General Secretary at the Women’s Christian Union of Angola.
“In a county where the population is young and HIV prevalence is high, their work is so important; they are role models in their community and provide vital support to young girls and women. They have had the confidence and courage to discuss the issues that affect women and girls and they inspire others to follow their example. This is helping them empower themselves to make positive life decisions.”
As part of the Girls Building Bridges programme, the girls start by developing ‘competencies for life’, so that instead of just saying ‘no to HIV’, they can say ‘yes, to themselves’. They then perform interactive role plays in schools and churches and encourage debate on topics such as gender equality, domestic violence and reproductive health in the context of HIV/AIDS. They also help to inform young women about their fundamental rights and encourage them to take ownership of their relationships.
Around 70% of the girls in the group go onto become peer educators and volunteers providing post-HIV test counselling at local health centres. They also offer moral support to many girls and women in the community who experience domestic violence. Tellingly, all girls from the first courses – now young women – are currently doing university courses and working, breaking the reproduction of poverty and exclusion in their lives.
On receiving the International Diana Award 14 year old Maria Gloria Santos said: “We are delighted to be the first recipients of this International Award in Angola. We are passionate about raising the awareness of key issues affecting young girls. We are the women of the future and we want it to be a better future.”
For more information on the International Diana Award click here.
For more information about the work of Christian Aid click here.
15 year old Sophia Said from Arusha in Tanzania is the first young person in Tanzania to be presented with the International Diana Award.
Aged just 7 years old, Sophia was living on the streets of Arusha, with her siblings. They struggled for two years before she was given a home and support at the Shalom Centre for street children. Since joining the centre, Sofia has enrolled in school, her confidence has grown and she has developed a passion for improving the lives of others.
While in Primary School in Arusha, Sophia was disturbed that in 2010 only 34 students, 44% of the class passed the National Examination, the exam required to enter secondary school. Sophia made it her mission to increase the number of children entering secondary school. She campaigned for all the students to receive remedial classes after school. At first Sophia was faced with opposition but she was not discouraged and she lobbied to get remedial classes and the school agreed.
In 2011 the results were impressive, 80% of Sophia’s classmates passed the exam, due to the extra support they received after school and thanks to Sophia’s campaigning. This campaign has been introduced to other schools in the area, schools now offer remedial classes and lunch in school, this has increased the rate of children passing the national examination from 65% to 85%!
At school Sophia’s classmates call her ‘Mtetezi Wa Maendeleo Yetu’ meaning the advocator for our development. Sophia is a keen musician and has set up choirs at school, church and at the Shalom Centre.
Sophia’s campaigning is not limited to school, she has also set about fundraising for a generator for the Shalom Centre, as the centre had no electricity and the children could not complete school assignments as it was dark. A well-wisher donated a generator and now the children can see in the evenings to study.
Sophia was nominated by the Shalom Centre to receive the International Diana Award. Golden Mgonzo, The Executive Director at the Shalom Centre said: “We are delighted that Sophia is the first Tanzanian to receive the International Diana Award. Sophia is an inspiration to her peers, she is persistent and will campaign for positive change. She is determined, courageous and passionate; she is a worthy recipient of the International Diana Award.”
On receiving the International Diana Award, Sophia said: “I am so happy I have been given the International Diana Award, it is an honour. I hope I inspire other young people to stand up for what they believe in.”