AID FOR AIDS’ Cuanto Sabes? preventive HIV education program, which trains hundreds of thousands of adolescents across Latin America and the Caribbean as peer educators in the fight against HIV transmission, is undergoing a major expansion in the Dominican Republic.
On a weeklong visit to the country earlier this month, a team from AFAI’s offices in New York and Venezuela, conducted a series of trainings for new “Cuanto Sabes?” facilitators and teachers, as well as two new members of the board of directors of our Dominican affiliate.
“Cuanto Sabes? has been operating successfully in Dominican Republic since 2006,” noted Dr. Jaime Valencia, AFAI director of operations, who led the training effort. “But, as a result of this latest effort, we will now be able to expand the program to reach thousands of additional students throughout the country, and improve the quality of the teaching itself.”
The first two days of the visit focused on training a dozen facilitators, who are charged with training the “Cuanto Sabes?” schoolteachers. Three of those 12 new facilitators were selected to become part of the AFA Dominican Republic team, while the remaining nine have been given the task of implementing the “Cuanto Sabes?” program within their own secondary schools. New board members also went through the basic facilitator training.
Following that two-day session, a three-day training was held for more than 20 teachers, who will be returning to their schools to work directly with students, training them to become peer educators and multiplying agents in their communities, and coordinating all the peer-to-peer interventions conducted by those adolescents.
“We were encouraged by the high quality of the professional educators we encountered during the training,” said Valencia. “Not only in terms of their teaching skills, but the commitment they are willing to make to further the goals of our program.”
In a related development, Valencia met with executives from Megacentro, a major Dominican retailer, which has expressed interest in working with AID FOR AIDS to establish and implement corporate HIV policies. Those policies would address such issues as HIV education; gender equality, and the discrimination commonly faced by people living with HIV/AIDS in the corporate workplace.
“It was a very fruitful meeting,” concluded Valencia. “We’re very much interested in helping Megacentro come up with effective HIV policies and procedures, and we welcome interest from other corporations in Dominican Republic or any other nation in the region. HIV education does not have to occur only in classrooms.”