“I was born with HIV,” says 18-year-old Eradi Massawe. “My parents passed away when I was still very young.”
Unfortunately, Eradi is not an anomaly. His life story is an all-too-common one among youth, living in Africa.
And yet, despite being orphaned by and infected with a disease that killed an estimated 1.6 million people worldwide in 2012, Eradi is an inspiration.
A secondary-school graduate and Peer Educator at the MisMamo Youth Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Eradi uses his experience with HIV and AIDS as an opportunity to help educate others through play.In 2008, Eradi joined a weekly Right To Play program and activities at the local community centre. Not only did play help take his mind off of his HIV, it also helped him learn valuable lessons about his health.
I have learned a lot of things about HIV and AIDS,” affirms Eradi. “Like the means of transmission, prevention and the importance of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.”
Not only is this knowledge helping Eradi focus on his health, it’s given him a passion to pursue: “My dream is to facilitate HIV and AIDS education sessions for other youth like me,” he says.
Eradi’s confidence to be a leader in the community defies the stigma surrounding a positive HIV status that often forces those infected into isolation.
“I am a role model of ARV use.” says Eradi. “I am no longer afraid—I share my HIV status freely,”
In 2010, the teenager became a Right To Play Junior Leader responsible for leading the warm-up and cool down exercises for his peers. Today, Eradi
sport and play activities for kids under 10 years of age.
“Sport and play have made me healthy and have allowed me to become a leader in my community,” says Eradi.