Imagine being so high up the mountains you can nearly see the magnificence of heaven on earth without you actually visiting it; the hosting District of the final regional auditions of the Y+ Beauty Pageant gave realism to that imagination.
Our journey to Kabale District was an eight-hour drive filled with thrills and fascinations. The journey was characterized by the sprawling hills with fresh rains and breathtaking air scenery filled us with the breath of pure life; Indeed, this is the “Switzerland of Africa”.
As our beautifully branded van drove around the city, natives excitedly waved and smiled at us; “Agandi- Nashemererwa okukureeba” literally meaning; “Hello-You are welcome”. This indescribable hospitality kept us confident and pumped up for the long-awaited search for the next Mr/Miss Y+ Western Region 2020/21.
On Friday 30th October, the search began with a community dialogue with identified district officials and community gatekeepers to strategize means for the tackling of stigma and discrimination in the district. We were welcomed by Dr. Didas Mukwezi, the Adolescent and Youth Coordinator at Kabale Regional Referral Hospital who recognized that; the Y+ Beauty Pageant is the first of its kind in Kigezi Sub-region and that it comes at a critical when the entire Kigezi region is crumbling with the perilous effects of HIV/AIDS.
He quoted that; “Stigma and discrimination continues to limit many people especially men from accessing HIV services. Even those on treatment are failing to live positively” He emphasized the need for urgent multi-sectorial role play in effectively addressing the problem and called upon Government and donors to increase investments specific to interventions that address stigma and discrimination in communities.
The Officer in Charge of Kabale Town council Police, Mr. Kyalyangana reiterated by remarking that; “HIV does not discriminate”. He stressed that, the Uganda Police remains committed in promoting HIV Prevention and ensuring that detainees and prisoners living with HIV are supported with Medicines and Foods to enable their positive well-being.
The Guest of Honour, Mr. Namara John Bosco, the District Youth Chairperson while closing the dialogue highlighted the need for prioritization of Behavioral Change Communication initiatives that effectively engage communities in Fighting stigma and discrimination especially towards young people living with HIV/AIDS. He mentioned that the district youth council has intensified efforts and 10 out of the 13 sub counties in the district have fully functional youth centers from where young people can access information and services to make informed reproductive health choices.
The day was wrapped with a community service outreach at Kabale Central Market. With the support of our Peer educators, we cleaned the central market and promoted awareness about the significance of correct and consistent condom use in ending new HIV infections.
We also distributed a total of 400 pieces Male and 250 female condoms while educating and conversating with community members on the importance of always using condoms correctly and consistently, By the wake of the Sun, on the 31 st of October, we were already set and excited to usher into the long- awaited day-the crowning date for the new Mr/Miss Y+ Western Region.
With a lineup of 53 participants, the search started in full gears. The melodious applause in the room impelled the contestants to give their best shot. Each contestant exhibited a unique kind of positive vibe and indescribable energy which gave the judges a tough challenge deciding on who the winners would be.
By sun set, the “Switzerland of Africa” had decided on which contestants were more extraordinary to become the Mr/Miss Y+ Western Region 2022/21. Hail here comes the Queens and Kings of the “Switzerland of Africa”. Ladies and gentlemen allow me to introduce the new Y+ western region winners.
- Mr Y+: Noah Junior Tiago, TASO Mbarara
- Miss Y+: Naturinda Sheilah, Kamukira HCIV
- Mr Y+ 1 st Runners Up: Peter Ngambenawe, Kabale Regional Referral Hospital.
- Miss Y+ 1 st Runners Up: Ainebyona Precious,
The western region marked the end of the search for the regional winners and 2020/21 ambassadors; we now
excitedly progress into the boot camp where we shall prepare the regional winners for their new roles as Y+
ambassadors and then the Grand Finale when we shall unleash the national Y+ King and Queen 2020/21. A
special thank you to our partners and sponsors who have made this journey possible and worthwhile, we
appreciate the support as we strive to change the narrative for all YPLHIV.