Meet Janet: Representative of adolescents and young people

By Janet Bhila

Janet Tatenda Bhila is an advocate for children, adolescents and young people's issues, and the Y+ representative in Zimbabwe

Janet came to the UK to represent adolescents and young people living with HIV at the Alliance's annual Donor Consultation meeting and Trustees meeting. She blogs about her experience.

<p>Janet Tatenda Bhila from Y+ and Shaun Mellors from International HIV/AIDS Alliance</p>

Shaun Mellors - Director of Knowledge and Influence at the Alliance, with Janet Tatenda Bhila from Y+.

I left Zimbabwe on the 6th of May, looking forward to my journey, but dreading the eighteen hours -  including lay over - before I made it to Heathrow Airport. This was my first time being in the UK, let alone Brighton.

I have always heard of the double-decker buses that look like they want to tip over, the country of the Queen and the delicious Cadbury chocolate. Too bad the Queen’s Castle is not a place to waltz in without an appointment or an agenda; I would have loved to spend an afternoon there.  Never the less, the International HIV AIDS Alliance made it possible for me to be in the country and for me that was the best ever, thank you.

Being a part of the READY movement has been a blessing, because this week was spectacular, I got the privilege to co-chair the International HIV/AIDS Alliance annual Donor Consultation meeting with Shaun Mellors – Director of Knowledge & Influence at the Alliance. He guided me through the whole process as this was my first time to co-chair at a board meeting.

Adolescents living with HIV face a lot of issues, and it is part of my duty to fully represent children, adolescents and young people.

There was a READY talk show that was being hosted by Cecilia Kihara who is the Lead: Adolescents, and during the talk show, I was asked: if I was given a million dollars to add on to the READY programme what would I do with it? I answered: to have a leadership programme that will be able to help empower willing young women with skills to demand their rights to be heard as well as give them livelihood skills for them to survive.

It is a blessing to deliver a message to people who understand the issues on the ground, people who can relate to what one is saying and people who do appreciate that, yes in as much as backgrounds are different, some experiences we face as young people are similar in any setting.

Adolescents living with HIV face a lot of issues, and it is part of my duty to fully represent children, adolescents and young people, so I did my best to cover most issues, bringing to life different scenarios faced by adolescents, while linking them to the different programmes and partners that are working under the READY+ programme.

I believe that as the world is changing, a lot has to be done to create a strong generation; a generation of HIV-positive young people that are able to stand up and fight for their rights to be recognised while they responsibly do the same.

This we can only achieve once we have a movement such as READY to take the next step, and having both males and females in one room. Representing adolescents and young people is my passion and I would like to believe during the week of 7 to 12 May the READY team did justice to that.

Bravo team. Let’s join hands and represent the unheard voices.