GASA (Girls Against the Spread of AIDS)
34 percent of the community’s population is living with HIV and most are not even aware of their situation. The most affected are females between the ages of 15 and 45. The GASA girls program was introduced in 2003; it includes girls between the ages of 15 and 17 through 18. The sessions are intensive training for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. The girls share what they have learned with other youth in their community.
No one is absolutely sure but it is said that 1 in 4 women are HIV positive compared to 1 in 14 are men. This disparity is one of the tragic legacies of rape. The training involves empowering the girls to make a difference in their community and to help them become peer educators for HIV/AIDS. Once the training is completed the girls move on to the life skills portion of the GASA program. Here they help to choose the topics that are relevant to their lives. Anorexia, bulimia, rape, abortion, intimacy, love and dating seem to be the subjects close to each one. Once a month, everyone goes into the community to volunteer at an orphanage, nursing home, soup kitchen or preschool. Members of the group struggle with circumstances such as attempted suicide, death of a relative and addictions to drugs and alcohol. The focus is also on beauty, their own and the beauty that God provides.
The GASA program generally meets twice a week with the girls who have finished the program staying on with the new members. Because the aim is to educate and empower these young women using comprehensive sex education, it will decrease teen pregnancy and protect them against HIV/AIDS. They will feel more empowered as women to make a difference in their community and to have a greater appreciation of one’s self.