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One wonders what the feeling of love would be called if it begun with letter F, or more interestingly, why we titled our blog with such a random wish. We may not be able to answer to the former wonder, but the latter, we sure can with our Valentine’s Day 2020 experience. Our day was characterized by 3 activities that all begun in letter F; flowers, football and fun.

The day started with a little sprinklings of rain. Here in Africa, a day starting like that is always a good sign. Love was in the air and we caught it real quick, setting thoughts on how to spread it. What better way to do that than the age old method of sharing flowers! We picked up some finely budded roses and packed them in bouquets of red, pink and white and headed to some of our like minded friends. These were Sexual Minorities Uganda, Reproductive Health Uganda, UNAIDS, UN Women in Uganda and the SRHR Alliance. This activity, according to our Programs Manager Olga Daphne Namukuza, is a reminder of how much we treasure partnerships in the fight to improve health and livelihood for young people, especially those living with HIV.

“We did this last year to a number of organisations, and we came through again. We may not be able to reach out to everyone we care about, but may the few we reach out to be a symbol that we appreciate the joint efforts to make the lives of young people with HIV better” she said.

From here, we moved to Banda Town, in a small residence known as Acholi Quarters. To many, this area is a slum but we were here for our peers who call this place home. The Premier League has been on a week long rest, so we knew a couple of young people were thirsty for some footballing action. The home team called Slum Soccer Academy was playing host to our very own UNYPA Tackle Africa FC.

There is one thing common between Slum Soccer Academy and UNYPA Tackle Africa FC; they both have young people at heart, providing them with rehabilitation and keeping them focused to achieve more in life by creating awareness on HIV/AIDS while providing life hacks. So it wasn’t by surprise that the game was a tight contest with a very close score, ending 2-1 in favour of UNYPA Tackle Africa.

While we enjoyed the football, we encouraged the members of Acholi Quarters community to test for HIV. With an approximated population of 2,000 people in such a small place, the residence is a most at risk area making testing a core activity on the day. We tested a total of 196 people with 4 testing positive. On top of this, we gave the largely youthful community sessions on proper condom usage for both male and female condoms, while distributing 230 condoms for free. Furthermore, we provided cervical cancer screening and family planning interactive sessions.

We left the area feeling satisfied. According to Onyango Isaac, an 18 year old staying in the Quarters, it had been a fruitful day.

“I enjoyed the football very much. I had personally tested recently but I was glad that my other friends could also get to test and know their status”.

Safe to say we had a fun day where we spread love to our people in the best way we know how but better still, in the way they enjoyed best. Grateful to Reproductive Health Uganda, Reach Out Mbuya and Acholi Quarters Local Council for making this Valentine’s Day one to remember.

We are still looking for a word starting with letter F to mean Love.

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