One of our most passionate and important projects, the HIV/AIDS sensitizations are carried out in rural communities and run as open, free events that anyone can attend. Our youth have created a mixture of drama, spoken word, song, and discussions in order to engage the most people possible about this important issue. TPFSL recently received a grant from Rotary International, and will be using this grant to grow our HIV/AIDS Sensitizations and make them more accessible and understandable for those in very remote areas. By taking down misconceptions and providing real information in a sensitive way in local languages, our youth are engaging communities with this important issue.
During weekly meetings, youth discuss problems they are passionate about bringing an end to, and one of the most frequent is teenage pregnancy. Our youth decided to create a high-energy drama performance and sensitization, targeting local high schools, that addresses this problem head on, offering solutions and spreading awareness. Sensitizations are ongoing and extremely beneficial in both rural and urban areas of Sierra Leone.
The Ebola crisis is real in Sierra Leone, and our youth created a door-to-door community based sensitization program that shares just that, while answering common questions many people have about the disease. Our youth aim to break down the misconceptions and provide real, accurate, information in local languages to those who need it most.
One of our goals is not only to train youth to take on leadership, but to create an environment where youth from different cultures and backgrounds can learn and share in a safe space, brainstorming ways to create change in the world around them while also learning how to change themselves and overcome their own struggles. We do this through youth conferences – after hosting two cross-cultural conferences in 2013, where we brought North American and Sierra Leonean youth together to learn from each other, we look forward to an upcoming conference in 2015-2016.
All the TPF members involved in our various branches are eligible to apply every year for a chance at a university scholarship, provided they meet the rules and requirements and have demonstrated solid leadership in our programs. Out of the many applicants, a few exceptional students are selected every year based on academic strength, leadership potential, and need for the scholarship, and these students become our ambassadors, learning how to improve themselves and others through furthering their education. We currently have 13 youth we are sponsoring with university scholarships.
Based on an inclusive manual created by our team, youth go through workshops in order to become community mentors. After successfully completing the workshops, they find a leader in the community to mentor them, and they also find a younger student to work with! Mentoring is important because it enables youth to receive realistic, practical advice about the real challenges they face, and also helps them to express their opinions and become an advocate.