Makete District, Tanzania вЂ” Nehemia Sango made a bold statement: вЂњNimeachana na ngonoвЂќ вЂ“ I am abstaining from sex. But he didnвЂ™t just mention it to a few friends; he proclaimed it on the cover of Si Mchezo! magazine.
вЂњBy 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,вЂќ explains Nehemia, a young man from Makete district in southern Tanzania, one of the areas hit hardest by
вЂњOnce I was no longer a student, my relatives expected me to find a wife. But I knew I wasnвЂ™t ready. I already had enough
responsibility taking care of myself and my brothers, and besides, I had other goals for my future.вЂќ
In order to focus on his goals вЂ“ and avoid HIV вЂ“ Nehemia decided to abstain from sex before marriage. вЂњI had sex when I was younger, but it was a mistake,вЂќ he says.
вЂњI always read Si Mchezo!, and I wanted to share my experiences with others like me. My advice is, donвЂ™t rush into sex.
Temptations are there, but abstinence is possible.вЂќ
Si Mchezo! targets rural, out-of-school youth вЂ“ a huge proportion of the youth population in Tanzania вЂ“ 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 PresidentвЂ™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. вЂњSi Mchezo!вЂќ is a popular Swahili phrase that means вЂњno joke.вЂќ
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 NehemiaвЂ™s provide role models for positive change. Published bimonthly, the magazine has a national circulation of 98,000.