Based in Nigeria, Youth Development Health Initiative are working towards a HIV-free generation by educating young Muslims on HIV/AIDS prevention with their SAF grant. We spoke to Kola Muyideen about their project…
1. Who is your target group and why?
Our target is young Muslims and the reason we are targeting them is because of the sensitivity surrounding young people’s sexual and reproductive health in Islam, which has limited the knowledge of young Muslims on HIV/AIDS prevention education. The problem of HIV education in Islam has elicited contradictory expectations and responses. Denial (“Not in Islam”) characterised the early phases of the epidemic. HIV was presented as a disease brought from countries where sexual morals were decadent, and obedience to Islam injunctions was thought to offer the best protection.
2. Tell us how you’re using your SAF grant to expand your project over the next year.
We will be building the capacity of 10 Muslim voluntary youth organisations on integrating human rights and gender into HIV prevention programmes and mobilising young Muslims to know their HIV status.
3. Why does YouthDevelopment Health Initiative integrate human rights into your HIV awareness programs?
Research has shown women are two to four times more susceptible to infection than men due to such factors as their larger genital areas exposure to the virus during intercourse, poorer ability to negotiate safer sexual practices and greater vulnerability to other sexually transmitted diseases and issues of genders violence, the presence of which greatly enhances the risk of HIV infection.
We started with youth voluntary organisation to understand the concept of human rights and gender as they relate to HIV transmission and prevention.
4. What challenges have you faced throughout the implementation of your project?
The first challenge is the acceptance of the project by the religious leaders, but after we presented the baseline survey we conducted through a stakeholder forum and advocacy, they accepted it with caution on distributing the condoms. They asked us to make the condoms available to whoever requests it, but reinforced it is between him or her and Allah (Muslim God).
Another challenge is the issue of Boko Haram which is a jihadist terrorist organization based in Nigeria that seeks to abolish the secular system of government and establish Sharia law in the country with violence and killing of innocent citizens. People were afraid at first to come out to our community mobilization program but eventually, they came.
5. What have you personally learnt from your time at Youth Development Health Initiative?
I learnt about team building. I believe in myself as a “one man battalion”, and that without me things will not go well, but by giving others a chance to take on more responsibilities has relieved me, and has allowed our work to be completed faster and more productively.