The International Aids Conference held from the 6th to the 10th of July 2020 was virtually attended by delegates from all over the world and Juliet Murindi, DREAMS ambassador from Bulawayo was one of them.

“It was a life changing experience for me. Given my background, I never thought one day I would represent my peers at such a high-level platform. I was inspired to share my story with my peers who were still deciding to join the DREAMS program,” said Juliet.

The International Aids Conference is a premier global platform attended by stakeholders across the globe to advance HIV response. Juliet represented Adolescent Girls and Young Women in (AGYW) in Zimbabwe articulating their challenges.

“I spoke passionately about my peers whose challenges have been worsened by COVID-19 lockdown. I explained how AGYW struggle to get contraceptives, there are shortages of PrEP as the global supply chain is disrupted. Teenage pregnancies are on the increase together with sexual and gender-based violence.”

Juliet left the conference with renewed strength to promote the rights of AGYW. She now uses social media to raise awareness of AGYW’s rights and encourages her peers in and out of the DREAMS program to report all cases of abuse.

“As I was listening to other presenters at the conference, I learnt that I could do more to my community during these difficult times. I am now using WhatsApp platforms to help other AGYW to protect themselves from HIV, STIs, early and unplanned pregnancies. I have shared the Musasa Project Toll Free number with my peers to report any cases of GBV. During this lockdown, I also share correct COVID-19 information that I get from DREAMS facilitators and encourage my peers to seek virtual mental health support from DREAMS partners whenever they feel overwhelmed.”

Juliet joined the DREAMS program in 2018 through one out of school club facilitator. She received an educational assistance subsidy which enabled her to complete her Advanced level education with flying colours. Using the skills that she obtained during the DREAMS entrepreneurship skills training, Juliet managed to pay for her university fees.

“The DREAMS program empowered me to achieve my goals, the sky is the limit! I will do my best to support my peers to be strong and aim for a better life regardless of their challenging backgrounds.