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YouthNet

Si Mchezo! Magazine educates and entertains rural Tanzanian youth

YouthNet Briefs on Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS

YouthNet

May 2006

SARPN acknowledges YouthNet as a source of this document: www.fhi.org/youthnet
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Makete District, Tanzania — Nehemia Sango made a bold statement: “Nimeachana na ngono” – I am abstaining from sex. But he didn’t just mention it to a few friends; he proclaimed it on the cover of Si Mchezo! magazine.

“By the time I was 17, both my parents had died. There was no money for my school fees, and I had two younger brothers to take care of,” explains Nehemia, a young man from Makete district in southern Tanzania, one of the areas hit hardest by HIV/AIDS.

“Once I was no longer a student, my relatives expected me to find a wife. But I knew I wasn’t ready. I already had enough responsibility taking care of myself and my brothers, and besides, I had other goals for my future.”

In order to focus on his goals – and avoid HIV – Nehemia decided to abstain from sex before marriage. “I had sex when I was younger, but it was a mistake,” he says.

“I always read Si Mchezo!, and I wanted to share my experiences with others like me. My advice is, don’t rush into sex. Temptations are there, but abstinence is possible.”

Si Mchezo! targets rural, out-of-school youth – a huge proportion of the youth population in Tanzania – with information about sexuality, reproductive health, and other issues, including HIV/AIDS and risky behavior. The editorial development and production is currently supported by YouthNet/Tanzania, with funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the U.S. Agency for International Development/Tanzania. Other donors contribute to print runs and distribution in other parts of the country. “Si Mchezo!” is a popular Swahili phrase that means “no joke.”

The format is designed for youth who are not strong readers. Articles are written in simple, direct Swahili. Cartoons and photographs add to the appeal, and a four-page photo-novel is the centerpiece of the magazine. Testimonials like Nehemia’s provide role models for positive change. Published bimonthly, the magazine has a national circulation of 98,000.



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