Peer Health Educators in Primary Schools Make Big Impact

On a brief study tour of projects in Njombe, Highlands Hope Umbrella's Royal Orr and his son Jacob visited a number of projects undertaken with the McGill School of Nursing. First stop was at a testing event at Mlevela Primary School. The more than 250 participants were there because of the animation and activism of the recently trained Peer Health Educators from the school. With their two teacher-mentors, these young peer educators had convinced their fellow students that an event of this kind was the best way to increase knowledge and protect themselves by becoming comfortable with the testing process and knowing their status.

Later in the day, Royal and Jacob met the Peer Health Education team at Nyambanitu Primary School and heard from teachers there that the young people had created conversations and an open exchange of information that was notable and very encouraging.

The Peer Health Education effort was the brainchild of CHAKUNIMU, a local volunteer organization focused on HIV-AIDS issues that worked with the Highlands Hope Umbrella and McGill School of Nursing to analyze student awareness and attitudes to HIV in Njombe primary schools and develop and run training materials for young peer health educators.

Further training is underway for four more area schools with district and national level educational authorities expressing interest in expansion beyond Njombe.