BEIRUT, Lebanon — Y-PEER is an innovative youth-to-youth initiative pioneered by UNFPA in 2000, that has now spread to five continents and about 50 countries, including Lebanon.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé recently had the opportunity to attend a dance performance here by Y-PEER during the Jeux de la Francophonie, an event that brings together sport and culture to foster dialogue and understanding among French speaking nations. The festival will run in Beirut until 6 October, bringing together 70 countries from all over the world.
The Y-PEER network performed a dance and song written specifically by its members for the games. The lyrics include HIV prevention messages in Arabic, French and English, with the dancers forming a large red ribbon of red fabric at the end of the routine.
“This evening’s performance was inspiring, putting these goals into action with young people creatively participating in the AIDS response in their own terms,” said Mr Sidibé after the show. “Culture and creative expression are powerful tools for mobilizing people of all ages and I applaud the Y-PEER.”
Started in Eastern Europe to deal with the dramatic increase in HIV prevalence among youth in that region, Y-PEER has become an international network that connects over 7000 young peer educators with information, training, support and a wide range of electronic resources. The network has adopted an approach of edutainment’ – combining education and entertainment – as an effective way to communicating HIV facts to young people.