WEEKLY HOT TOPIC: AIDS 2016 Youth Reporter Velisa | Children's Radio Foundation

We use radio to amplify youth voices across Africa, giving them the skills and tools to speak about their lives

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I am Velisa Jara and I’m a lesbian from Khayelitsha, Cape Town in South Africa. I’m a photographer. I am good at teamwork, leading young people, communicating and giving youth advice. What is important to me is to be treated equally. Sometimes when people treat me badly, I’m scared to live in my community. I wish I could be treated like someone’s sister or someone’s friend, and not like an alien in my own community. Then I’d feel free and safe.

Radio is powerful. It gives youth the space to speak about their issues and have the platform to share their own experiences, live. One of the most important radio pieces that I’ve been involved in was an audio drama that we did with Siyaziwa, a young reporter group from Khayelitsha. It was an LGBTI audio drama where we were telling our own stories. I learnt how to create my own character and script in the drama story. We recorded it and the Introduction to the drama was broadcast on SAFM radio. Episode 1 was aired on Radio Zibonele. It was the first LGBTI drama created by LGBTI people that played on our community radio station.

I felt nervous and excited about attending the AIDS 2016 global conference. I was hosting to almost 300 people in the pre-conference, but it all went well! I am excited that it is a first for youth to be featured so strongly at a conference of this size.

My hope is that youth voices can be heard by people who can really help push change. I wish to see changes in HIV policy which allow all young people to access safe health care centres. I want to see more services, like providing condoms, for the LGBTI community. We wish to get better service, and for the nurses to treat us equally. Not to question us when we go to the clinic, and not asking questions about our personal lives. “Why did you decide to be a lesbian? How do you sleep with your partner?’

I would like to see PReP more accessible to all. Now it is only available from a few NGO’s and only for men who have sex with men (MSM), and sex workers. Like antiretrovirals, (ARV’s), anyone should be able to get it free at a clinic.

I have confidence that youth voices will really be heard at AIDS 2016.

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