FOCHTA Youth Club

Despite the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Malawi, a strong stigma is associated with the disease. In addition to the grief of losing parents and the stresses of supporting themselves and their siblings, many orphans also suffer the social stigma of being an AIDS orphan.

The FOCHTA Youth Club is a peer support group, where students help each other through the challenges they face and undertake community service activities to raise social awareness. Many members of the Youth Club are orphans, but the Club actively reaches out to non-orphans and welcomes their participation as a way to increase social cohesion and reduce the isolation felt by orphans.

Youth Club members meet regularly to help each other with school work, play sports and games, and to discuss the issues affecting them.  The group has a strong social focus, engaging in community service projects such as conducting visits to sick and needy villagers and assisting them with household chores. The Youth Club also has a drama program, where members write, direct and act in plays that highlight social themes and perform them for classmates and community members.

A First Aid course and a Literacy program are offered to club members by university students who were themselves supported by FOCHTA, and who now wish to help the organisation.

The FOCHTA Youth Club is valuable not only for the peer support and camaraderie it provides to students, but it helps them build their confidence, teaches them leadership skills, instils community spirit, and helps repair the social fabric badly damaged by HIV/AIDS.