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Start Free, Stay Free and Be Free says First Lady

Start Free, Stay Free and Be Free says First Lady

The First Lady, Madame Monica Geingos continues to champion the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free agenda through her #BeFree movement as a UNAIDS Special Advocate for Adolescents Girls and Young Women.

The intention of #BeFree is to create a non-judgmental, inclusive platform which encourages hones and robust dialogue and information-sharing between all parties on challenges that hold young people back.

The First Lady’s strategy is to encourage students, parents, life skills teachers, social workers, nurses and police officers to engage in HIV-related issues. She encourages participants to discuss the problems they face as well as the impact of absent father figures, alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy on children’s education and well-being.

After the dialogues, participants are advised to become #BeFree ambassadors and help young people at their schools and in their communities by establishing #BeFree regional clubs.

The initiative has also shown that many young people have confided in the Office of the First Lady by revealing issues that trigger pain or relate to traumatic events they have experienced or continue to experience.

The Office has managed to intervene in several unreported or unresolved cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, custody battles, baby dumping, teen pregnancy, cyber bullying, harassment and threats and intimidation.

Meanwhile, the City of Windhoek, Gobabis, Katima Mulilo, Rundu and Walvis Bay have hosted #BeFree events and other regions are planning to implement events by the end of the year.

About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.