Jibilika Dance Trust has started a new season for youth HIV awareness and life skills campaign Step Up 2 HIV, which uses hip-hop and elements of popular culture as a vehicle for engagement and empowerment.
The project was launched in 2013 and has been running with funding from the United States’ President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar).
It has been present in major cities of Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo and Harare.
“Over this period, the programme has been active in 40 high schools with performances, club formation and visits,” said Jibilika founder and director Plot Mhako.
“Step Up 2 HIV has also made strides in communities with a series of regular engagement initiatives such as the monthly Jibilika Cypher that rallies youth in positive social actions through performing arts.
Mhako said the Step up 2 HIV project would mobilise and engage young people through popular music and dance for HIV prevention, sexual reproductive health and advocacy campaigns in schools and communities.
“Step up 2 HIV uses mediums that young people are interested in outside of the classroom as the bridge to teach them about HIV and Aids,” Mhako said.
“We empower them with the knowledge, tools and opportunity to use their own art, media and ideas as a way to empower their voices internally, in their homes, schools, communities and in the world at large for an Aids-free generation.”
Mhako said Jibilika realises that without access to the right information and services, these young people will continue to be exposed to sexually transmitted infections and HIV, hence the programming has been tailor-made to target communities for information acquisition, information for empowerment and information for decision making.
“With support from the US Embassy, the programme resumes with a bang targeting youth from Harare’s southern suburbs where the programme will intensely work in 10 schools and six communities of Mbare, Budiriro, Mufakose, Glen-View, Highfield and Glen-Norah,” Mhako said.
Thirty multi-disciplinary young artsistes have been trained through a two-day intensive workshop to facilitate the programme.
Mhako said within the next five months, Jibilika would be hosting several community outreach events under the banner Jibilika Cypher, an open talent platform that gives a chance to singers, dancers, beatboxers and poets to showcase their creativity, at the same time addressing issues around HIV and Aids.