U.S. Ambassador Encourages Swazi Youth to “Rise to the Test”

United States’ Ambassador to Swaziland, Makila James, attended a “Rise to the Test” event in Siphocosini on Saturday, September 26, 2015 to support and encourage Swazi youth to take a stand against HIV/AIDS. The event was hosted by the Boys Reaching Out (BRO) and Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) clubs of Siphocosini High School. This youth-led initiative was supported by PSI, through its “Got It, Get It” platform, as well as by the U.S. Peace Corps.

Over 1,000 community members from Siphocosini and surrounding communities joined in the “Rise to the Test” event, which aimed to raise awareness about the importance of HIV prevention and testing and was the first youth-led initiative in the community’s recent history.

Ambassador James was joined by local Member of Parliament, Phesheya Hlatjwako, as well as other community leaders. In her remarks, Ambassador James said she was extremely proud to see so many Swazi youth dedicated to and united in their fight against HIV. She challenged the youth to “show everyone that HIV will not get the best of their generation.” With the testing and counseling support of New Start, 653people tested for HIV.

Non-governmental organizations, including PSI, NERCHA, and Diabetes Swaziland, were also present to educate and encourage community members to take healthy measures to ensure a successful future. Additionally, the BRO and GLOW clubs led discussions with their peers about common challenges they are facing. Saturday’s event at Siphocosini was part of a series of “Rise to the Test” events supported by PSI. Similar events were held throughout the month of September in Matsetsa, Siteki, and Ntfonjeni. The “Rise to the Test” series reached over 2,000 Swazi youth with much needed HIV education and encouragement to take steps to ensure a healthy and successful future.