The majority of the Kenyan population is made up of 45% of young people. However, almost half of new HIV/AIDS infections are among adolescents and young people and one in every two infections is a youth.
Education is a factor of change in peoples’ lives and every child has the right to a safe, formal, good quality education, and access to lifelong learning. However, due to a combination of factors, many girls are forced to leave school while others never have the opportunity to attend in the first place.
G-Dev (GeoDevelopers), a YouthMappers chapter in Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in Nyeri County, Kenya took the initiative to be the voice of the youth by creating awareness on the importance of knowing your HIV/AIDs status and the importance of education. Youth are such an important layer of society and there is a need to center the focus on them by providing a platform where they can acquire formal education, more importantly girls who are more vulnerable.
Girls are the most vulnerable and we discovered that most girls in 55% of the surveyed households had children or were expecting. This greatly hindered their participation in schools. Culture contributed greatly, some cultures denied girls an opportunity to acquire an education and, instead, most girls were married off at young age. Furthermore, the few schools in the area had more male students than female students, at a ratio of 3:1.
To create awareness on HIV/AIDS we partnered with nursing students in the institution to offer HIV/AIDS test services to the community. We managed to test 251 people, 78% were youth and 22% were adults. Testing is important because it reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS and also helps provide various measures to prevent its spread. For example if one person tested positive, we offered counselling and recommended they seek immediate treatment at the provincial hospital. We generated a report on our findings and forwarded it to the general hospital in the Nyeri County to assist HIV patients there. We also made frequent visits to the people with HIV/AIDS to provide care and support.
We visited few schools and households in remote areas of Nyeri County and conducted a survey. During the survey, we were able to collect data which enabled us identify and analyze different problems faced by boys and girls in regards to education. Furthermore using a handheld GPS we managed to map households and different schools around the area. This data, once processed using QGIS, will assist the community determine the nearest schools and also the government while developing education centers in the area. We plan to share a report that includes our maps with the community through the area chief. Before development of any educational center, the chief needs to be involved and understand about the distribution of schools in order to enhance the development of schools in the area.
There is need to empower the youth and the community at large to break the cycle of poverty by greatly investing in young people, in their education and health, to improve and better their lives.