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Reaching out to youth

TEBELLONG, Qacha’s Nek, Lesotho – UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund has launched an innovation campaign for adolescents and young people under the slogan, ‘be connected, be tested, be safe’.

UNFPA Representative for Lesotho, Therese Zeba Kobeane, addresses young people about protecting themselves.

The launch of this campaign, in collaboration with Vodacom Lesotho and Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association, was held at Tebellong Hospital in Qacha’s Nek district, which houses a population of 70,000 people. The innovation launch was attended by 400 people from Tebellong Village, including 250 young people.

The Innovation campaign is part of a joint programme between UNFPA and Vodacom Lesotho. It is structured around youth resource centres in districts where UNFPA provides support. The aim is to increase opportunities for and the capacities of youth to deal with the challenges they face in order to remain adaptable, agile and responsive in a rapidly changing world.

The campaign stems from the UNFPA’s Innovation Fund, which is a seed fund for youth at the district level using youth resource centres to leverage ideas leading to a project designed by young people, with coaching by youth leaders and youth skills development officers.

UNFPA artist, Mosito Sents’o, wows young people with songs on gender-based violence and HIV prevention, and respect for the integrity of young people.

UNFPA Representative for Lesotho, Therese Zeba Kobeane, said young people should do their best and should take responsibility for protecting themselves. UNFPA provides commodities for preventing unwanted pregnancies among youth, she said. As life has no draft version, if they make a mistake now they will not be able to simply erase it and start a new one.

Acting Head of Tebellong Hospital Dr. Pitshou Kande thanked UNFPA for its work at the hospital said he looked forward to a more long-term programmatic intervention.

At the event, 20 people received HIV testing and counseling (HTC) provided by UNFPA’s implementing partner, the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association (LPPA). More than 9000 male condoms were distributed as well as 1480 female condoms and 100 lubricants. UNFPA artist, Mosito Sents’o, impressed the youth with his songs carrying messages on gender-based violence prevention, HIV prevention and respect for the integrity of young people.

By Violet Maraisane