Celebrating 58 years of Uganda’s independence with the first auditions of the 2020 Y+ Beauty Pageant running under the theme, “Changing the Narrative of Young People Living with HIV”. We commenced with a community dialogue hosted at the Uganda AIDS Commission offices in Kampala; the dialogue brought together 25 key stakeholders including; the Global Fund CCM
representatives, opinion leaders, the police, teachers, parents, law enforcement, health workers, media fraternity, CSOs representatives, and young people.
From the dialogue, teachers acknowledged that stigma and discrimination against students living with HIV is still a critical issue in schools. “Many parents have not and still fear to disclose to their children, some teachers are not professional enough in dealing with students who have opened up about their HIV status to them!”Said Mr. Muwesi Robert- Headteacher of Eden High School in Gayaza. Representatives from Schools emphasized the need for the Ministry of Education to work with organizations’ like the Uganda Network of Young people living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) in the promotion of HIV prevention awareness, encouraging abstinence among adolescents, and life skills development for students. Mr. Ssemakula David from Naalya SSS re-echoed; “Our students need to put a face to HIV, professional counselors don’t provide that- We want young people who are living with HIV just like these Y+ ambassadors to talk to our students; I am very confident that they will listen to them”. Ensuring access to justice for people living with HIV came out strongly as a major component in addressing stigma and Discrimination. Ms. Marion Kutusa the Deputy Commissioner family and child protection unit at Uganda Police reiterated that people living with HIV are not second- class citizens. She urged YPLHIV to report cases of discriminations and violence targeted at them and that those will be addressed following the available laws “Before one is HIV positive, he/she is a human being and deserves to enjoy their full human rights” she emphasized The guest of Honour, Mrs. Tumwebaze Eunice- manager of Gender Youth & Children Development at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) while making her remarks highlighted the need for reviewing the “HIV/AIDS talking Compound messages” in schools and at
construction sites that are biased since they drive stigma and discrimination. She recommended that the messages have to be positive and friendly. She also emphasized the need for parents to get on board in providing HIV/SRH information to their children and noted that; “The conversation on HIV/AIDS is for everyone therefore, no one MUST be left behind in HIV prevention and in fighting stigma and discrimination.
Day 1 wrapped up with a community service outreach in the slums of Soweto-Namuwongo with Y+ Ambassadors and staff of UNYPA cleaning Namuwongo market, and informing market tenants about the importance of maintaining personal hygiene and sanitation especially during the COVID19 pandemic. The team distributed over 12,000 pieces of male and female condoms with information to the public on the importance of correct and consistent condom use in the prevention of HIV infections, STIs, and unwanted pregnancies.
Day 2 followed with the central Regional Audition which was hosted at Alive Medical Services in Namuwongo; it brought together a total of 63 contestants vying for the title of Mr/Miss Y+ Central Region 2020/21. The ceremony was moderated by a team of three independent Judges namely, Ms. Zaituni Nabagereka; an SRHR- HIV expert with 10 years experience in working with and for young people, Ms. Blessings Bakashaba- Executive Director, Kakazi Foundation, and Mr. okiror Benjamin- Mr.Y+Eastern region 2019/20.
All the Contestants were amazing however, there were those who were exceptional and behold, its them that emerged winners; Ladies and Gentlemen, allow us introduce to you the Mr & Miss Y+ 2020/21 Central Region; Israel Luminsa, aged 21years from Baylor College of medicine Mulago, Namayanja Sheirat, 19 years from Mildmay Uganda. The 1st Runner’s Up; Semambo Joel, 20 years from TASO Mulago and Nakyejwe Katherine, 22 years from Baylor Uganda, The 2nd Runner’s Up; Serunjongi Shafik, 19 years from MU-JHU- Mulago and Mulungi Sanyu, 20 years from Namugongo Fund for special children. These six winners get a direct ticket to the boot camp together with the other twelve yet to be identified from the remaining three regions. A special thank you to all our sponsors and partners for making the Central Auditions a success. Our next stop is the Eastern Region, the land of Busoga kingdom-Kamuli District on the 16th – 17th October 2020.
See you there!