Since August 2022, Rwanda Network of People Living with HIV / AIDS (RRP+) in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWOMEN) initiated women engagement in the awareness to promote the Rights for women living with HIV using social media.
In this context, RRP+ identified 30 women across the country and trained them in the leadership, public speaking, advocacy, camera operation and social media management, and this yielded many fruits.
They are currently using the skills they learnt to change the community in regard to the people with HIV positive status, using the social media platforms that they created, curtesy of the training.
One of the beneficiaries is Uwimana Daphrose, a girl who was born with HIV twenty seven years ago. Before the training she had no skills about leadership, advocacy, camera skills and social media, but after the training, her life has changed to the better.
“I am proud to have learnt camera skills including setting, sound system, camera movement for filming as well as editing techniques,” she said.
Uwimana, a woman of details went on to describe more on what she learnt including aperture and Shutter mode which usher the videographer off of Auto mode, giving them more control over their images without thrusting them fully into Manual mode.
“They are great settings for the camera to explore and master,” she said with confidence.
Uwimana is also capable to edit video using the program of Adobe Premiere Pro including importing video files, creating sequences, adding clips to the timeline, setting in and out points, rearranging, moving, stretching clips, as well as the razor tool and more.
Cutting clips, adjusting audio levels, cropping videos and exporting videos, upload videos to YouTube channel and reviewing feedbacks are now the things she has mastered.
She uploads the videos on either of the two Youtube channels, including Women who Change and Ubuzima bw’ibanga which she co-owns with the group that was trained.
The two channels also correspond with twitter accounts which are @womenwhochange, @ubuzimabwibanga.
Uwimana knows how to hold and move the camera without losing the quality of the image and how to apply the best tripod or the dolly use.
“I can properly use tilt, pan, zoom, pedestal, dolly and truck,” she said with confidence.
Uwimana knew that she was positive when she was 9 years old, a harsh reality that would change her life forever.
Charlene Byukusenge 28, another trainee also born with HIV said that due to the stigma surrounding her case at the time, her close family members abandoned her.
At school, the same stigma also tracked her, making her own school environment a nightmare.
Worse, her father was victim of the 1994 Genocide against tutsi and with this, which worsened the stigma from people who deliberately did not want to just call her a child, but “that orphan with HIV.”
After training on leadership, public speaking, advocacy and social media management, Byukusenge can now confirm with confidence:
“I understood that I needed to increase my active listening to women and girls living with HIV and collect evidences for advocacy. I used to create my YouTube content without knowing how to react on the feedback. Now, I know how important is the feedback of my audience and how to handle them.”
Byukusenge is now a women rights activist, who has not only learnt how to navigate her life, love, school, and work aspects, but uses her story to educate fellow young people about HIV, voluntary testing, taking medications and being honest to declare their HIV status in relationships.
Byukusenge is one of the role models within the trained girls. She currently runs a radio and a TV show, on top of her YouTube channel Charlene Journey which she uses to share her story, to educate her fellow youth.
The Youtube Channel corresponds with her twitter account @CharleneJourney.
“Through my channel, I have supported 80 people including 15 VIP persons that include CEOs, celebrities and diaspora people to return and continue their Anti Retro Viral treatment after poor adherence,” she said.
Byukusenge has triumphed over HIV discrimination, becoming a successful solar electrical engineer. Through the support of RRP+ and partners. Her story showcases the power of collaboration in improving lives of the people living with HIV and the importance of access to tailored regimens, counselling, and friendly service delivery for those affected by the virus.
RRP+ says that the project was successful as it brought out another milestone and engagement of women and girls living with HIV in prevention, care and treatment and the fight against stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV.
They open up and demystify myths and misconceptions about HIV and related gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination.
Speaking during the validation of the messages for girls and young women in October 2022, Janvière Mukantwali, UN Women Rwanda Programme Specialist acknowledged the joint efforts for different partners from Government (MOH, RBC), UN agencies and development partners (UNAIDS, WHO, PEPFAR, ICAP and ACHIEVE), Civil society organizations and communities to engage in the promotion of Rights for women and girls living with HIV and prevention of the disease.
Find the link for a documentary movie produced by women and girls here.
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