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Jul 27
“This generation of broken people ends with us”

​by Zamacebisa Zakwe​

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I am a DREAMS Ambassador working for HST, seconded to the uMgungundlovu Municipality. The goal of the DREAMS campaign is to help adolescent girls and young women develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids-free, Mentored and Safe women.

I was invited  to the 2018 International AIDS Society Conference by The US President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a United States governmental initiative to address the global HIV and AIDS epidemic and help save lives.

PEPFAR invited me to share my personal story and my journey with DREAMS so that people can understand the impact that DREAMS has on the lives of girls, using my story of how I grew up and how DREAMS has helped me find my voice and heal my pain and anger.

I was also invited to moderate the DREAMS satellite session and spoke at some other sessions like the SANAC (South African National Aids Council) 'She Conquers' session. She Conquers is a national campaign that aims to empower adolescent girls and young women in South Africa and improve their lives.

I hope that I can try to advocate for prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, to support adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). For example, at our Thuthuzela Care Centres we can get assistance after a sexual assault, but there is nothing in place to prevent these crimes against AGYW.

The biggest highlight for me was the pre-conference session called Women Now. It's all about African women coming together to support and empower each other.

What a space, knowing you can say whatever you want in there and feel safe. We need that support and mentoring from other African women who have been through the things we went through. It just took me to another place. I loved it.

I learned so much there. Our great-grandmothers were fighting these issues and we are still fighting them. It ends with us. This generation of broken people ends with us. We will make this a better place for our kids so that they don't have to go through what we went through.

I've been to the US before, but this is my first time in Europe. The Netherlands is so different – the crime here is so low; you can actually walk around the city and not get scared. It is so safe and so quiet and so free. People are just free. You can just be you here.

People who sell sex here are protected by the law and can access health services. It really touched my heart.

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