Siaya county in Kenya is a poor region that falls far behind the national progress made in fighting HIV.
The burden of HIV in Siaya stands at 24.8%. In the province where Siaya County is located, 6.2% of youth aged 15-24 are living with HIV. This is three-times higher than the national youth HIV prevalence rate.
Mildmay Kenya are using forum theatre to reach these vulnerable young people. Magnet Theatre is a project that uses storytelling, arts, dance and music to promote HIV and sexual health awareness, discussion and understanding.
Scenarios and stories inspired by the ‘real life’ experiences of adolescents and young people encourage the audience to offer solutions to problems and behaviour patterns that they recognise.
Performances are brought to places where young people gather, such as market places, villages and events.
In 2017 Mildmay Kenya ran a ‘Theatre Pilot ‘ to test if community theatre can encourage young people to access testing. The response was overwhelming.
During the pilot, we reached over 17,000 young people through theatre, promoting compassion and increased understanding of sexual health and reproductive rights as well as reaching 17, 427 with HIV testing services.
This further confirmed the high and unmet need for essential HIV sexual health services and the effectiveness of using theatre to reach young people.
Magnet theatre is a powerful, dynamic and engaging way of promoting HIV testing, challenging stigma, providing vital HIV & sexual health education and information as well as promoting diversity, compassion and understanding. The aim is also to inspire young people to take action and speak up about barriers to HIV prevention, care and treatment in Siaya County.
Mildmay are deeply grateful to the MAD Trust for providing the funding that will enable this project to flourish and help Mildmay Kenya to transform young lives within such a vulnerable community.