Finally this is happening

Finally this is happening

Earlier this year a workshop took place to set out a way forward for KY-PLUS,  the brand new national network for and by young people living with HIV in Kenya. Around 18 participants discussed vision, mission, objectives and next steps of the established network. During the workshop we popped in and asked participants about their motivation, expectations and why the need for such a network.

How does it feel to be part of KY-PLUS?

“Finally this is happening and this is a huge deal. So I will pull my head out high when I’m talking about our network”, kicks off Consolata Opiyo (Y+). Brenda Bakobye (Sauti Skika): ”As young people living with HIV in Kenya we did not have a network that speaks for us. I feel like our advocacy work has been put in place right now.” Gloriah Moses (AYARHEP):  “It’s beyond words, it’s something you don’t expect to happen and then it’s happening. I’m mind blown.”

Portraits of Consolata, Brenda, Judy and Gloriah
Brenda, Consolata, Gloriah and Judy (left to right)

Why a network for young people living with HIV?

Gloriah says: “I think it’s a great opportunity to have a platform where the voices of young people are amplified for greater change.” Consolata adds: “This network is a home for young people living with HIV, where they can feel secure, where they can get any information they want. Different is that young people are also going to lead it. That’s what makes this organisation very unique.” Brenda: “It’s all about us. If only we could champion it for young people, we could create change in Kenya.”

How come young people lack empowerment?

Brenda: “It’s ignorance from our decision makers. They think we don’t have the experience and are not willing to bridge the gap between adults and young people.” Consolata feels self-stigma is a big issue. “We really need to focus on this. It’s very important to have this network to fight stigma.” Gloriah is looking forward to having a community of young people that have all the knowledge and skills in terms of HIV and SRHR and other things that affect them.

 

What are you hoping KY-PLUS will achieve?

Consolata: “Healthy lives. Access to treatment.  Linkages between SRH and HIV.  And finally a safe space for young people. We have to push to make sure that that happens.” Brenda feels that partnerships with existing NGO’s and decision makers can help them to achieve their goals.” Judy Amina (GUSO Youth Country Coordinator SRHR Alliance Kenya) adds: “KY-PLUS should become able to question policies and demand our rights. It would be great if KY-PLUS could be brought on board of alliance projects that are about young people’s issues.” Consolata warns: “In Kenya young people are the ones who are dying. Kenya should be ready for us because we are going to be pushing the national strategic framework.”

Next concrete step to be taken?

Consolata: “To register our network and think about a strategic plan. First we will be housed at NEPHAK (Kenyan network of people living with HIV) for a while. So to be independent we should look for our own funding and take ownership over the organisation.”

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