"In my culture, it is very hard to talk about sex, relationships, or HIV/AIDS, with elders. It is considered disrespectful. So it was very hard for me to talk about sex and HIV with my parents or even my friends, because I thought that they would think badly about my life, or assume that maybe I was having sex.
Then the time came for my desire to have freedom in speaking out to be fulfilled. It was when I turned 15 and joined the DREAMS mentoring program. During the DREAMS sessions, we learned the importance of avoiding sexual relationships and staying safe from HIV, because by doing so, our goals for the future can be reached.
Part of mentoring involves inviting our parents to come for parent mentoring lessons. When my mother attended family mentoring, it made it easier to talk to her. Even my father, too. One day, my father asked me, ‘What do you learn in those classes?’ Once I told him, he became freer to discuss such issues with me. He also told me to tell my young sister about the mentoring program, and that is how she joined it. Through the mentoring lessons and field trip tours, we explore and come to know more things, and then we teach others what we have been taught.
The project has indeed supported me. I am what I am today, so brave and intelligent, because of DREAMS. I can tell my friends, my relatives, and my parents all about what I learn and do, at our DREAMS lessons. I thank our mentors and all who are helping us at DREAMS."
*This story was published in DREAMS Innovation Challenge: Silence Speaks- Youth Stories