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Last Updated: 08/18/2005Dispatch from Tanzania
Regina Eddleman has spent the last six months in Africa working with youth programs that include HIV/AIDS peer education in Zimbabwe and peacebuilding and conflict prevention in Tanzania.
In Zimbabwe she worked closely with the youth to facilitate discussions on HIV/AIDS related issues in local schools, assisted in training camps and communications. Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in Africa and the world. There are no words to express how the pandemic has affected every fabric of the society in a country already suffering from an economic and political crisis that is said to be the worst since they won their independence. In Tanzania, Regina also works closely with the youth, developing workshops, mentoring and assisting them in their own proposal writing and projects.
I have been in Tanzania for over a month now and I am definitely glad I came here for this experience. Last week I put together a makeshift, week-long peace building course for six Tanzanian youths. They are very interested and active in their peace club and want to begin their own peace education seminars to give to other peace clubs. I think they enjoyed the class and really came to realize all the different aspects of peace building and how difficult and creative it can be. They understand more fully the importance and possibilities of non-violent resolutions to conflict. I am also finding much reward in teaching. I teach English to another youth and now he and the others call me "Teacher" and "Sister Regina". It meant even more when my student sent me a text message saying "Thank you teacher for teaching me. I am so happy now because there was darkness in my head but now I can see the light..." And the others' inspiration to peace education is very inspiring for me. I continue to be impressed by their motivation and intellect.
Tanzania is the darling of the aid world, while Zimbabwe is sanctioned and funds withheld because of Mugabe even though he is not the one starving or having his house torn down. Well, there are so many stories to tell and describe but I hope to tell them in person sometime soon as I miss everyone horribly and hope to laugh and talk with you again.
Regina Eddleman holds a master's degree in International Peace Studies from the University for Peace.