By Elvis Muraranganda
First Lady Monica Geingos has urged African parents, guardians and caregivers to have open and frank conversations with their children about HIV/AIDS and risky sexual relationships.
She has also encouraged the establishment of smart partnerships, in order to protect young people from harmful decisions.
The First Lady, who is also the UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls, made these remarks during an Africa Day celebration, organised by African diplomats stationed in Namibia.
She made reference to her own experiences of how she was mentored by her predecessor, Penehupifo Pohamba, who took her through the processes and systems of being a First Lady, adding it is important for parents to forge similar partnerships with their children.
“The power of partnership and the power of communication, within a partnership, are very important, if we want to protect our children,” explained Geingos.
“It is like when a nurse would see a young girl pregnant and then ask her what she is doing at the clinic or how she got pregnant. We want to ask these complicated questions, so we can’t have a discussion around HIV, if we can’t talk about sex,” Geingos said.
“As a mother, I know how difficult it is to talk to your children about sex, I have a lot of young people in my house, and my son, who for some reason hates washing dishes, [would jump to do the dishes] the moment I start talking about HIV.
“So it is a difficult conversation, and in the absence of us speaking to them, they are going to talk to each other. They will go to social media and then they end up getting the wrong information. We need to start having honest conversations with our children regarding sex,” the First Lady said.
According to Geingos, the main reason for having honest conversations around HIV is to further curb infections, despite the fact that Namibia has managed to reduce HIV infections by 56 percent over 10 years.
“It is that HIV is coming back in young people between the ages of 14 and 25. The worse is, it is not coming back in young boys, but it is coming back in young girls. This means that older men are infecting them with HIV.
“And again, this is not an easy conversation to have, because most of these high risk relationships are underpinned by finances.
“Anything not underpinned by love, mutual respect and partnerships in a relationship, undermines your ability to negotiate effectively. Any relationship where your negotiating power is reduced is a risky relationship,” Geingos said.
She then implored parents to create smart partnerships with teachers and grandmothers, in order to help protect their children.
“When my son was 16, he would take my car and go out without my permission. It was a very busy period for me, and I was travelling a lot. I struck a partnership with the petrol jockey next to my house, and every time he would leave home or return, the petrol jockey would call me to inform me.
“We need to create these unlikely, but smart and effective partnerships, if we want to help our children.”
Geingos advised parents to speak to their kids in a language they understand, so that the message can get through to them
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015