Sexual education and AIDS prevention through theatre

Background and Problem analyses Theatre for Development
At this moment more then 50% of the Malian civilization is younger then 17 years and 75% younger then 25. 75% of the youth is unemployed. Mali is one of the most poorest countries in the world and located at the 173rd in the world prosperity index. There are 176 countries indexed. Youth and the poorer among us are a risk group regarding HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The latest number on the infection rate of HIV/AIDS are from 2006 and amount to 1.3% of the adults (18+) population, which includes 60% woman. This seems to be not that bad, but there is much effort needed to maintain this figure and try to get it down. Doing nothing is not an option. A nurse of “Info Santé” Mr. Haidara said ones during a information day that last year 6 out of 10 girls between 14 and 25 who were tested in his clinic where seropositive, for boys this is 1 out of 10.  In Mali, it is still very unusual to openly talk about relationships and sex. Young people don’t get any sexual education. Therefor it doesn’t interested them eater. Some examples:
– “The pill can make you sick and you can not have kids anymore” Female, 23 years, son of 3 years, high school graduating class.
– “You can prevent AIDS by eating a lot of mangoes” Boy, 18 years, cabinet maker (student).
– “I don’t use condoms because they are not in my size anyway” Boy 22 years DEF, unemployed.
The balance between emotional and rational thinking with youngsters aged 12-25 is gone (Neurobiologist Dick Swaab). That is why youngsters don’t make realistic estimations about their situation. It effects them a lot because of their consanguinity and ill-informed education. They drive easily with a death-defying speed of 60 km per hour during peak hour at 18.30 with no lights and bad brakes or make love to 14 year old girl without condom. Nothing will happen to them, because they drink powder milk from Europe and step out of bed with the right foot first.

Target group, goals and measurable results
This project has 2 target groups: The actors and it’s public and/or the roll play participants.
Actors: unemployed youth (male/female) between the age of 16 and 30 years.
Public an participants: everybody between the age of 16 and 30 years.

Change in behavior
The goals that we try to achieve with the actors is to socially activate them and to broaden their confidence. Also they will learn to participate in a team, to give sexual education towards others while creating the theater.
The goal for the public and roll-play participants will be, after seeing the piece, being well informed on sexual transmitted diseases, love relationships, sex and contraceptives so they no how important it is to have safe sex.

Above the age of 18 years participants can join the project. There are no requirements concerning the level of education. Illiterates and educated are both welcome. We believe in the power of each human being, not of it’s limitations. All participants signs a contract so we are sure they show up during rehearsals and performances. The expense allowance is paid only when the actors come on time.
We focus on a young diverse audience, 14-30 years. All educational levels and social classes. That is why the play will be played ad many different places for free: Schools, villages, a bar, jail, on request and in public places.

For guidance, a Malian director will be attracted. A director who has experience with improvisation theater and who has no embarrassment concerning this theme. The director will be supervised by the coordinator of the Center. All together they will organize the rehearsals, meals, decorations, clothes, props and performances.
The STD-spokesperson of the Cerkes « Association Kenedougou Solidarité » and the spokesperson from “Projet Info Santé” La voix des jeunes will advise and give sexual education right after the play. We have done this before in 2010 and it worked really well. All participating organizations will be responsible for their own costs.

It is a temporary project for 8 month. But a successful sex and health information that above all leads to the desired change in behavior is always sustainable. For us the task to do it good. Studies  that have been done to similar theater pieces in the Netherlands and several African countries showed that not all results can be achieved. Recommendations where made which we will use.