All performances went pretty much as planned: A theatrical play by 'les cauris de la capitale', a sketch by 'Club de jeunes contre le VIH/SIDA du Lycée Béhanzin, musical performances by 'Emotion X' and 'MDOD'and of course a discussion/presentation by the executive director Eugene Aguemon of the ONG 'Action Sociale'.
Throughout the event the youth were happy and excited
. The energy was great but sometimes a little too overwhelming. During the conference we had two HIV/AIDS info booths set up where we along with the pair educators(PE) handed out pamphlets and free condoms after demonstrations or little lessons. However, the one lesson we learned is free things in Benin are a rare and when there is an opportunity to get something no matter what it is they want it. There were youth squeezzing and pushing to get in line for pamphlets, brochures, condoms...half the time I felt they didnt even know what they were struggling to be in line for but, they knew it was free and they wanted it! However the important thing is hundreds of youth listened and spoke to the PE about HIV/AIDS and walked away with valuable info to reflect back on.
At the end of the conference we handed out a few door prizes which included YMCA t-shirts and tatoos, these too went over very well. Lots of kids left the conference stamped with the YMCA logos on their arms, legs, cheecks...the YMCA of GTA was definitly 'connecting' this Saturday afternoon.
Saturday March 10th was the Conference and it was a great sucess! The plan was to have at least 500 Beninoise youth attend and we estimated there were a little over a 1000 participants! We are all very proud of the outcome of the event. There were quiet a few youth that arrived early, which in Benin is not the norm, so seeing this confirmed for us that people were genuinely interested and excited to be there.