This took place at an event held on April 14, 2012, themed Reach One Save One and hosted by Youth in Action in partnership with the Arcadia Community Centre, Because we Care and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Although it was targeted at the youth primarily, it drew people of all ages and over 250 people attended.
In his opening speech, Arcadia Community Centre Board chairperson, Wally Costa applauded the organisers of the event. "Too often when the going becomes difficult we waste time looking for ways to complain instead of getting busy finding real workable solutions to make things better."
He emphasised the importance of spreading the HIV prevention message to teenagers, citing some worrying statistics, "Half of the people living with HIV in Zimbabwe become infected during adolescence or young adulthood. Stats tell us that between 2002 and 2006 Zimbabwe’s population decreased by 4 million people because of the disease."
The programme featured a line-up of some of very visible personalities, consisting of musicians, athletes and business professionals. They spoke about their careers and about how important it was to protect oneself if Zimbabwe was to one day have an HIV-free generation.
Among them was the International Hip Hop artist Metaphysics who shared a story of how he had met an American songstress in the early days of his career and had wanted to have sex with her.
He had gotten really intimate with her and was within reach of his goal when she broke down and started to cry so the deed was never done. A few weeks later reports in the papers told of how the same songstress was HIV positive.
At that point he said he realised he had dodged a bullet and has taken safe sex very seriously ever since. This story among many others were shared to give a human face to the HIV / Aids pandemic that still claims 1 in 10 people in Zimbabwe today.
Also present was dancehall sensation Sniper Storm who emphasised the message of abstinence and safe sex to the young people in the auditorium. Other speakers were Guspy Warrior, Glynis Finch and Godfather Templeman.
The MC was the ‘C’ in C ’n’ A Entertainment, Clint Robinson, who this week is in the UK to run in the London Marathon. Clint has been responsible for bringing artists like Sean Kingston, Elephant Man and Mavado to Zimbabwe. He also encouraged the young people to behave responsibly and, at a minimum, use protection, but most of all, to know their status.
A strong sense of pride and care was felt with individuals living with HIV coming forward to willingly share their experience in hopes to reach one and save one.
There was free HIV testing and counselling available from the new start centre next to the community centre throughout the day. There was also a station where free male and female condoms were being given away for free to give attendees an opportunity to start or continue to practice safe sex. The organisers said that this was the first of a series of planned events such as this.