Dance and drama are popular ways of spreading information to a wide audience. In Lilongwe, this method is being used to spread HIV/AIDS messages within the communities partnered by the SOS Social Centre.
Youth club members discuss HIV/AIDS
Youth clubs have been set up in each of the seven villages where SOS Social Centre Lilongwe has become active. These clubs form a focus for the youths who meet regularly to share HIV/AIDS information. In this relaxed setting, led by a club 'chairman', the youths are able to clear up any misconceptions that they have regarding HIV/AIDS.
Choosing a medium for the message
When the youths are certain of their information, they create plays, songs, poems and even jokes which incorporate the issues that they have discussed. These sketches are then performed to fellow youths and the community at large. With the support of village chiefs and the village development committees, the youths spread the word about issues such as safe sex; responsibility for vulnerable families and individuals; how to live positively with the virus if you are infected and how to dispel myths about the virus.
Performances are very popular in the villages
Although the shows were initially meant to be for the youths of the communities, they are popular with everyone from young children to grandparents and village elders. There is always a large crowd whenever the clubs perform a show. One person from the community is chosen to "lead" the show and different groups of youths perform the sketches.
The challenge for the youths is to choose the right messages and ways of dramatising the information. It is important to catch the interest of the community if the messages are to be passed on. Eventually it is hoped that the youths from the youth clubs will receive more formal training in performance skills so that they can devise more interesting plays, songs, dances and jokes.