Angola: Angolan Youth Centers Provide Educational, Recreational Activities (September 2006)

Long lines trail outside the Jango Juvenile Youth Center in Cabinda, Angola. The center's educational classes, health information and recreational activities have attracted so many young adults to the center that there is not enough room for everyone inside. However, with few options for similar training or socializing, the wait is well worth it for many in line.

Recognizing the need to reach out to youth in Angola, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Emergency Plan/PEPFAR), working with partners in-country, is supporting four Jango Juvenile Youth Centers. The centers are located in Luanda, Cabinda, Huambo and Huil, and have been so successful and popular with youth that a fifth center is scheduled to open in Cunene this year.

The Jango Juveniles, whose name means "safe space," fill an important void for communities in Angola. Before the centers were built in 2002, there were simply no "safe spaces" where youth could learn to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and invest in their own future.

The four centers serve an estimated 140,000 youth per year. This success is due in large part to the unique approach used at the Jango Juveniles. In order to attract youth to the centers, a number of non-HIV/AIDS activities are sponsored, including skills training in diverse areas, sports and cultural activities.

Using peer educators, the centers educate youth about HIV/AIDS and teach them how to avoid contracting the virus. Educators focus primarily on behavior change, teaching youth to set behavior goals and delay sexual activity. Behavior change is a critical step in preventing the spread of HIV, especially among people living with HIV/AIDS.

Jango Juvenile Youth Centers are especially important for out-of-school youth, who come to the centers for additional education. These classes enable youth to become active leaders in their communities by teaching the skills necessary to become an integral part of the workforce. By providing training in these areas, the Emergency Plan and its partners are enabling Angola's youth to empower themselves and take control of their future.

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