Every first Sunday of October, Kampala becomes animated with flamboyant sights, vibrant sounds & lively rhythms in concert with an array of floats winding through the streets with dancers on show as they spin, whirl & twirl to mesmeric beats of celebration along the festival route. Along with savory aromas of roast and drinks at your disposal, enjoy electric vibes by sensational artists of diverse genre entertaining you, your family and friends at no cost.
During this City festival event, Kampala offered a musical, art and food buffet, including famed local and international artists who gave the revelers a buffet of multiple options. It’s a highly anticipated moment for revellers to share, learn and network while acting as an economic engine for companies, organizations and small businesses to flourish.
The event was massively attended, with over 10,000 people flocking to the Largest City Festival in Uganda and East Africa. The carnival was organized by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) with various stakeholders. This year's festival was celebrated under the theme ‘Black, Yellow and Red’ and had several other pre – festival activities including motor rally which was held on 1st October. People were not only from Kampala City but were coming from all the surrounding areas of Mukono, Mpigi, Wakiso, Luwero and others were coming from as far as Mbarara, Mbale and Masindi as well as from the International diaspora.
With Kampala in a constant state of change and regeneration, the festival projected the image of the City as a Happy, Cultural and Warm place to be while promoting positive change to its public realm. This however raised the need to remind young people to keep in charge of their health and general wellbeing irrespective of the fun.
It’s against this background that Public health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) with support from Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF), Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF), United Citizens Child Support Organization (UCCSO) and AIDS Health Care Foundation - Uganda Cares was honored to be one of the health service provider and partners as it offered free health education sessions, free contraception information and services, free menstrual hygiene information and services, free HIV testing and counseling and edutainment to the youth who made it to the event. The energetic youthful team showcased street performances in the form of Social Ballroom, Latino and Dancehall Dance Exhibitions that attracted many young people at the PHAU stall which was located on Parliamentary Avenue right in front of Nandos.
At the PHAU stall, great music was played by a youthful DJ Julio who attracted many young people at the stall from 9am till 10pm in the night. PHAU used this opportunity to create awareness and sensitization among young people and women with fun, informative and educative messages on HIV Stigma and Discrimination during the festival such as “Being HIV +, Is Not A Crime”, “Fight Stigma. Get to Know Your Status Not Just Mine”, “Appreciate Me As I am. End Stigma and Discrimination”, “I can’t change my status but you can change your attitude”, “I’m HIV Positive”, “No more Shame. Being HIV +. No more Stigma” and “I Pledge to Love+ Care + Support = PLHIV”.
More so, health education on correct and consistent use of male and female condoms was done during the music breaks as the youth were reminded to go for free HIV Counseling and Testing services. This was complimented with distribution of condoms and Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials to the young people on STI management, Teenage Pregnancy, HIV related stigma, Puberty and Menstruation.
PHAU peer educators and volunteers also reached out to adolescent girls and young women about the “Ensonga” Campaign where they were teaching them on various myths and misconceptions related to menstruation. The “Ensonga” Campaign is a one year project seeks to improve Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) among school going adolescent girls through improved access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities within primary and secondary schools in Wakiso District. Adolescent girls will be empowered with MHM information including use of reusable sanitary pads through formation of Sanitation health clubs and construction of sustainable WASH facilities. The project slogan is #MenstruationMatters.
The adolescent girls and young women had an opportunity to learn about the various menstruation materials including disposable pads, re-usable pads, menstruation cup, tampons, water bottle and other items that are vital in MHM. Furthermore, many young people also took off time to take photos with various advocacy message placards on MHM such as “Government!!, School Syllabus should have Menstrual Health Education”, “Need for Improved Menstrual Facilities at Home and School”, “ Menstruation is Normal and Healthy”, “Both Re-Usable and Disposable Pads are Cool” and “Boys and Men should support the Menstrual Cycle”
In numbers, a total of 2697 young people were referred to our partner; AHF Uganda Cares to receive free HIV Counseling and Testing Services. 41 of those tested were found HIV positive and immediately linked to the most preferred facilities for care. Over 28,800 condoms and 8,000 copies of IEC materials were distributed during this year’s festival
We shall wait for 2017 and we see what the ambassadors have in stock for the city!