Vongai Mbara Arts Correspondent
The President’s Emergency Plan For Aids Relief (Pepfar) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Association of Church-Related Hospital, ZACH are raising HIV and Aids awareness in the most entertaining ways possible. The HIFA Pepfar First Street Stage was a hive of entertaining activity yesterday, among them puppet shows with scores of individuals queuing to get tested for HIV as well as receive health information.
Speaking in an interview, ZACH programme officer Anna Machakata Rufu who is also the puppet show script writer, she said they incorporated puppets as a way of attracting members of the public as well as educate them.
“We wanted something interesting that onlookers would find entertaining but also get educated in the process. We then discovered a small group of people in Mashava who were doing puppet shows around local schools. We instantly knew that we wanted to work with them because they are crowd pullers and they are very hilarious,” said Anna.
One of the shows which featured a stubborn character called Tira who refused to get tested was about encouraging people to get tested before it is too late. “You were too stubborn my friend. I came and invaded your body, I called my friends TB and flu but still you refused to get tested. You dug your own grave,” said Aids at the end of the play.
The Pepfar platform, operating under the theme “Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free,” is part of the ongoing Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA 2018) and provides a unique opportunity for health services providers to meet members of the public while musicians from the HIFA line-up and other entertainers provide free performances.
They will also be providing high-impact prevention, care, and treatment interventions including cervical cancer screening at their First Street stand.