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Hatyja's story: training her peers and the police

Four teenagers in a classroom prepare a class, while woman pins a diagram up on the wall

“The first time I taught a class on HIV education, I was so nervous that I wanted to run out of the door before I had even started,” says Hatyja Bkova.

Hatyja, 17, from Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, has worked since 2006 as a young volunteer for the Red Crescent's HIV programme, training both students and adults alike about issues related to HIV, sexually transmitted infections and drug use. “I’ve grown so much in confidence now and become a much better trainer,” she says.

Training the police

Hatyja and other young volunteers have spoken to some interesting and varied groups of people. In 2009, she led training for several young offenders who had been selected by the local police station.

“After that we also held a training session for the policemen,” Hatyja says. “At first they were suspicious about what they could learn from a bunch of kids. It was a bit uncomfortable. But when we started the training, they got on really well. The policemen particularly liked the games – they were just like children! They even asked us to come back.”

Hatyja and her fellow volunteers have had a big impact on educating people in areas that the state is unable to cover.

“It is great to have the opportunity to train others on behalf of the Red Crescent, and to make a significant contribution to changing things in this country,” she says. “People, however slowly, are becoming much more aware of these important issues.”

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Turkmenistan HIV stories