Let the music unite us in combating HIV and AIDS!

What can music do to set our world free from HIV and AIDS? We agree that music is a universal  language and it can cross any borders in combating HIV and AIDS as a global pandemic. VFHA, Vanuatu Family Health Association, our Member Association from Vanuatu has combined a music competition, Reggae Faea, with a campaign to end HIV and AIDS in Port Vila. This event was organised by young people to campaign for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues affecting young people in their community.

Before conducting this event, the organiser worked with many stakeholders. This event was intended not only to promote SRHR but also to support local unreleased bands! Besides that, young people from VFHA also worked to find sponsors to make sure Reggae FAEA can be held with  sufficient funding. Reggae Faea is a Youth initiative that is born under the Vanuatu Family Health Association’s Port Vila Project Site and is organized and run by youth volunteers. This project initiative is a good evidence that showcase good cooperation with young people is a must to strengthen youth  adult partnership.

Reggae Faea is an annual event in Vanuatu and is determined to be developed and upgraded in the years to come. Each year local bands are allowed to compose a song based on a given theme. The songs are judged by four judges, 2 experienced health professionals & 2 professional musicians.

This year’s  theme was “Getting to Zero” which is in line with the World AIDS Day’s theme. The winner of the competition was Young Life, received a 3 year term shield + 25,000VT (271 USD) Cash, followed by Tribal Chant with 15,000VT (162 USD) and Konserners with 10,000VT (108 USD).

The success of this event was achieved through the commitment of hard working youth volunteers  and with the cooperation of generous Sponsors and working partners. Thanks to PDF ( Pacific Development Foundation), The Vanuatu Ministry of Health HIV and AIDS unit, World AIDS day donors, Fes Napuan, Master Sounds, VFHA administration, MP Ralph Regenvanu, Naviti Internet Café, Paradise FM, Wilco, FM 107, The Reggae Faea Committee, Volunteers,  and Participating bands mentioned below and the crowd that swarmed in big groups to  be the audience!

Participants for this year were: Young Life, Konserners, Masamp crews, Shanty towns, Cool System, Antz in Tokyo, Tribal Chant, Ruff Haus, Smol Haus, Reggae Royalties & Lady Jersenals. What else can you do with music, guys?  😀

International Conference on Family Planning: role of young people


I attended the 2nd International Conference on Family Planning: Research and Best Practices which took place at Le’ Meridien President Conference Center, Dakar from  29th November to 2 December 2011. The aim of this conference was to discuss the problems we face nowadays in the Family Planning work  and what are the other ways to solve or reduce the tension.

This was my first time attending an international conference held abroad. I have mixed feelings when I got the news from RHAM that IPPF is willing to sponsor one youth from ESEAOR region to participate in this conference. It was like a dream came true and without hesitation I replied with a big yes. Fear, excitement and eagerness are all the feelings that I had before going there. I honestly was scared before the trip because well this is my first time travelling outside Malaysia alone without any companion but it turned out to be the best experience ever.


After 16 hours flight from Kuala Lumpur to Dakar, I arrived there around 4.50pm (Dakar local time). My arrival was greeted with a big smile from the Conference staff who was holding a big banner of International Conference on Family Planning logo. I must praise the organizer for this! They made such an amazing work in handling people who arrived and organized for a shuttle bus to our hotel.

On the first day of the conference, youths all around the world gather at Salon Brun for our  Pre-Conference Workshop which was entitled “How to Participate, Communicate & Advocate : A Pre-Conference Workshop to Increase Youth Participation in the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning. This session was hosted by Alexandra Hervish who is a Policy Analyst in the Population Reference Bureau in United States. This pre-conference workshop indeed has built up the skills of young people to develop evidence-based messages about adolescent and youth sexual reproductive health and to communicate those messages to policymakers and donors using different communication channels.


(The pre-conference workshop)

Ready for action, the next day we were exposed to how technology can be used to promote Family Planning Among Young People. I was very impressed with this topic because we did not have these technologies in Malaysia even though Malaysia is one of the country that has good  access to technology and growing rapidly among young people.

The next session I attended  I find most interesting session and one of the panellist became a good friend throughout the course of this conference. This session was called “Start a Revolution : Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Further the Abuja Call to Action”.  The panel discussed the current relevancy and status of the Abuja Call to Action and developed strategies for an effective social media advocacy campaign for youth’s  sexual and reproductive health and rights . It was very interesting how the panel of speakers shared about their campaign of awareness through social media such as blog, Face book, twitter and so on.

(My friends who panellist in one of the session regarding social network)

In the evening, I hosted a roundtable discussion together with Kat Watson from IPPF Central Office in London and our discussion was about Peer Educators. Few fascinating stories were shared by the roundtable participants from Zambia, United State and Uganda. Different stories related to different epidemics. [j1] The session ended successfully with me gaining more knowledge from other countries’ participants.

The next day which is the third day was actually a big day for me. I was invited to showcase a film from Girls Decide programme which is one of the seven films made by IPPF. I show cased the film from Indonesia entitled, Halimah’s Journey together with my lovely colleague, Katie Chau from IPPF Central Office in London –  theperson who was  involved in the making of the film. It was actually my first time speaking in such a big amphitheatre hall and I was very nervous! Luckily Katie was there beside me and she consoled me from having a panic attack.

Every start must come to an end, so does  this conference. The last day of trip to Dakar, I joined a roundtable luncheon with Rebecka Lundgren. She’s from Institute of Reproductive Health, Georgetown University. It was a great discussion we had with her.

My journey to Africa was indeed  remain an unforgettable memory. It was my first and will always be the best experience that money can’t buy. Meeting new friends from all over the world, experiencing things I have never experienced and the most important thing is the knowledge that I gained throughout the 4 days is priceless. Regardless of  the long journey I had all the way from Malaysia to Dakar, I really had fun and thank you very much to IPPF who sponsored my trip to the conference. Without this sponsorship all of these experiences will never come into reality. To Kat Watson, Katie Chau, Joan Soto and Lasma, you guys were so awesome and thank you for guiding and taking a good care of me while I was there, especially Kat and Katie.

In conclusion, I also want to thank Federation of Reproductive Health Association (FRHAM) and Reproductive Health Association Melaka (RHAM) especially my state manager, Madam Mehala for guidance and advice before I left. Thanks to all of you who were involved directly and indirectly, whose names I may not have stated here but I do appreciate all of you.

Merci beaucoup 🙂

Written by: Norhidayah Nadilla, youth volunteer from FRHAM, Malaysia. You can find her at @dila2lala

Support young people leadership on HIV and AIDS!

When it comes to youth leadership, what  is the first thing thatcomes to  your mind? Some people say that youth leadership is very much relevant to young people who mostly travel to other countries. Do you think so? Thursday, 8th December 2011 night, in a small coffee shop in Selangor, we conducted a discussion to give our input to CrowdOutAIDS. It was attended by four young men aged 19-24 and the discussion was very vibrant and dynamic!

Our discussion was lead by Firdaus from FRHAM (Federation of Reproductive Health Associations Malaysia), he’s a youth leader and also one of the Regional Council Youth Member of IPPF ESEAOR. In this discussion, he invited his friend and we talked much about young people’s involvement and leadership particularly within the HIV AIDS movement in Malaysia.

Firdaus informed  that the Malaysia government in the past had conducted  a very big event to invite one million young people to gather in “Perhimpunan Sejuta Belia”, it was a  government initiative to approach young people. But they noted that when working with young people, the common problem is the project would be conducted by adults and most of these project do  not sustain for a longer period because of lack of youth involvement in the decision making process.

The participants in this gathering, revealed that young people in Malaysia still lack knowledge toward HIV AIDS. It is a taboo to talk about sex and in addition it is weird for young people, particularly boys to join HIV AIDS movement or programs. Culturally it is a norm that adults  do not  listen or give importance to young people’s opinions on many issues , which makes materializing youth adult partnership very difficult. .

One of the ideas proposed was to work with the media and expression via music to promote and raise youth’s awareness toward HIV and AIDS. Aside from that, partnership with private companies is a must since they have the power to reach a lot of working youth.

These vibrant young people from Malaysia  have made an action to combat HIV AIDS. Can you think of an action that can be made in your country, guys?