Saturday, January 05, 2008


Arriving late at the Aflao border from Ghana to Benin republic, Mr. Koffi stopped to pass the night as it was not possible to continue the night journey following the official shut down of the frontiers after 9.00p.m. The scene at the border could be likened to a pilgrim camping or some refugee camp with people littered all over the place. The Bar-man in the one and only lodging at the border, seeing the desperate need for rooms, offered his room to Koffi and a girl he had been discussing with which offer they promptly jumped to in anticipation of snatching some wink if only for a few minutes.
Nancy quickly arched herself onto the one-passenger bed, leaving Koffi with the option of squeezing in with no space between them. The situation was desperate, and such compromising closeness did not matter any more. At first, they slept like two innocent boarding house room-mates. But the sensations of opposite sex metabolism soon beclouded their sense of reasoning as they both, like consenting adults, locked themselves in warm embrace with lips gummed together in what looked like an inseparable eternity. Koffi’s heart pounded heavily that it did not need a doctor’s stethoscope to hear it. Amidst groaning and whining, the lady managed to utter the words, “I AM POSITIVE”. Koffi’s spontaneous reaction to those words was like thunderbolt. He instantly jolted out of bed, slumping to the floor in his flight and temporarily paralyzed by that shocking disclosure from Nancy who was indeed HIV Positive.
After the devastating shock of Nancy’s confession had subsided, Koffi who is a secondary school teacher made a resolve to launch HIV/AIDS campaign at schools around the country. It became obvious to Koffi that in spite of all the human efforts aimed at arresting the spread of the one epidemic that has defied all known medical and unorthodox therapy, HIV/AIDS continues to sound to many people as some sort of alien from outer space. Most people especially in the rural areas of African environments are never able to differentiate between HIV/AIDS and other common sexually-transmitted diseases such as Syphilis or Gonorrhoea; and so attempt to treat them with the same approach. Among the academic class in the cities, the level of awareness is not appreciably higher than the urban scenario.
During the workshop which lasted over one month, the unexpected turnout forced the organizers to reduce the participation age and other criteria in order to accommodate the overwhelming demand. Parents were no less enthusiastic in encouraging their wards to get really involved.
According to the Co-ordinator of the program some of the topics discussed include Handling Teens, Sexually Transmitted Infection, HIV/AIDS, Teens pregnancy and Abortion, Teens and Sexuality, among others.
An estimated 22.4 million adults and children were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2008. During that year, an estimated 1.4 million Africans died from AIDS. Around 14.1 million children have lost one or both parents to the epidemic. The following data shows HIV/AIDS prevalence in Benin Republic as at the period 2008:

People living with AIDS = 190,000; Percentage of Adults aged between 15 – 49 = 1.2%; Women = 37,000; Children = 5,400;
AIDS Deaths = 3,300; Orphans due to HIV/AIDS = 29,000. Source: GRADES-AFRICA®

According to some of the participants, the workshop has opened their eyes to so many health and sex-related information that are not ordinarily taught in the school curriculum. They expressed the need to have more of such extra-curricular activities for the benefit of the teeming number of endangered youths both in schools and around the communities.

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