United States Embassy and Plan Zimbabwe partner to promote health awareness

Harare: The United States Embassy and Plan Zimbabwe are supporting a volunteer campaign by nearly 100 youth in Harare and Chitungwiza starting September 22nd to raise awareness about the need for youth to take responsibility for their personal health and immediate environment through practical clean up campaigns and sport.

The first exercise will be held this Saturday at Chitungwiza Town Centre at 9 am with the soccer tournament taking place at Nyatsime College at 11 am. Future events will be held monthly in the suburban areas in partnership with district councils and local organizations working with young people.

The campaign brings together youth groups Obama Boys (U.S. Embassy) and Plan Zimbabwe Former Students Alumni both of whom partner the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), a grassroots advocacy group working to promote residents’ rights. The theme of the campaign is ‘Our Place, Our Community, Our Responsibility’ and it mainly targets out of school youth.

“We are excited about this partnership,” said Jillian Bonnardeaux, Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy. “We are always exploring creative ways to reach young people with messages about protecting the environment and protecting oneself from HIV/AIDS. We hope the youth are inspired by both exercises,” she said.

U.S. Embassy staff work with out of school and therefore at-risk youth in the Belgravia/Alexandra Park community. After three months playing soccer together, the team is now known as ‘The Obama Boys.’ The U.S. Embassy, through the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is one of the leading supporters of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Zimbabwe.

“We want to translate our messages into action to encourage communities to be practical about where and how they live,” said Canfred Pambuka, spokesperson for Plan Zimbabwe Former Students Alumni Trust. “It is the responsibility of every Zimbabwean to make sure that we have a clean environment which will allow people to live in an environment where people’s health is no longer threatened by the diseases.”

Plan Zimbabwe Former Students Alumni Trust brings together scholarship recipients from Plan Zimbabwe. Since its establishment 1986, Plan Zimbabwe has supported almost 30,000 students through educational scholarships to disadvantaged boys and girls. The students formed a Trust that engages in community projects as well as encouraging children, parents and communities to be actively involved in campaigning for responsible decision making in and out of school.

The Harare Residents Trust (HRT), which has conducted several clean up campaigns in Harare, will provide cleaning equipment while peer educators will facilitate knowledge sessions on HIV and AIDS during the soccer tournament.

During the campaign, youth will be involved in clean up exercises in various townships where they will be taught safer ways of disposing of litter and the importance of keeping the environment free of pollutants while peer educators will talk about the benefits of male circumcision and other HIV preventive measures during the soccer matches.