School in Mozambique Gets a DREAMS Makeover
The Sangariveira Secondary School in Mozambique used to be infamous for drugs, early pregnancies, a high drop-out rate, prostitution, and health problems.
To turn this situation around, the school of 5,000 students sought assistance from the PEPFAR-supported Determined, Empowered, Resilient, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS) public-private partnership. As a result of this collaboration, a maternal and child health nurse, a gynecologist, and a psychologist began staffing a school health center to provide the following:
- health education materials, theater groups, multimedia mobile units, health fairs, TVs, and internet access
- HIV testing and counseling
- male and female condoms
- age-appropriate family planning services
- gender-based violence prevention and care
In the first year of the DREAMS program’s implementation, the number of pregnancies among students was reduced by 77 percent. With mentors offering education to help dispel myths about HIV/AIDS, the DREAMS program has also helped successfully encourage students to adopt healthy practices that reduce their risk of HIV acquisition. Due to a strong demand, the high school introduced HIV awareness sessions on Saturdays, in addition to regular group sessions held during the school week.
The DREAMS program at Sangariveira has joined forces with local girls clubs to facilitate referrals and engagement across organizations as well as assign a unique identifier card that ensures efficient monitoring of the program.
Headmistress Paulina Alamo Chombe has noticed the positive impact of DREAMS. “Near the school, there is a brothel called Amazonia,” Chombe said. “Before DREAMS support commenced, many students had been seen going in and out of the brothel. Nowadays, I do not see any ingoing or outgoing movements of my students to that establishment.”
The success of the DREAMS program at Sangariveira Secondary School is inspiring other schools to request DREAMS activities in their communities.