Fourteen year-old, Londi (name has been changed) is a Grade 9 student at Rietvlei High School in Inchanga. She is one of ten students that were selected from her school to participate in HACT’s Peer Education programme over the past year and attended a three-day Peer Education training course during the October 2016 school holidays at CityHill Church.
Londi is an exceptionally gifted student and is currently top of her class. Her favourite subjects are mathematics and biology and one day, she plans to study to become a surgeon. “I’ve always been interested in medicine and in helping people who are sick. I think the human body is amazing!”
Londi is therefore particularly excited to be participating in HACT’s Peer Education programme and to be getting the opportunity to learn about HIV/AIDS, a disease she’s often heard about, but never really understood. “You hear about AIDS all the time, but it’s always far away and you don’t really stop to think about it. It’s only after today’s session that I now understand what HIV really is and what a big problem it is in our country.”
In addition to learning about HIV/AIDS, Londi and her fellow peer educators have been discussing the dangers of teenage pregnancy – a problem that is particularly rife at her school and a topic that is personally very close to her heart. “My older sister is 19 and has two baby girls who are three years-old and 9 months. While I love them a lot, I have seen how difficult it has been for my sister to be a young, single mother. She used to be so happy and laugh a lot, now she is always stressed and worried about money. She used to have lots of friends, but now she doesn’t see them and it’s like she’s given up.”
Speaking about her new role as a peer educator when she returns to school, Londi says she is eager to share what she’s learnt on the course with her fellow students. “We’ve learnt that as peer educators we first have to believe in ourselves before we can help others, we must lead by example and not give up on our dreams if we want our futures to be bright” says Londi.
One of the first projects Londi is planning on doing upon her return to school is to arrange an awareness campaign about peer pressure as she believes this is often the catalyst behind young people engaging in risk-taking behaviour. “I want to encourage my peers to stay true to themselves, to remember where they’ve come from and to not do things that they will later regret. If we can do that, we can all achieve our dreams and make our families proud of us.”