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24 June 2019, Ankara - Supported by UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund, and coordinated by Youth Approaches to Health Association (YAHA, Y-PEER Turkey), the Peer Theater Project, has staged the first of its many performances in Ankara, hosted by Ankara University on the 24 June. The Peer Theater Project aims to inform the youth about HIV and AIDS, in an entertaining way using theater in order to overcome prejudices regarding individuals who live with HIV and AIDS, and to display the difficulties these individuals experience in public.

University students, representatives of non-governmental organizations and academics attended to the performance on 24 June. The content of the play was created after the 5 days long youth camp consisting of training and rehearsals.

Pelin Anılan from Y-peer Turkey said “At the first part of the Theater Peer Project, which is formed of two stages and is perpetual, young people are informed by the experienced instructors of Youth Approaches to Health Association, about sexual health, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS through a 5-day-long, theater-centered peer camp. Young people who complete this programme, stage a theater play they have constructed based on the accurate, reliable information they have received throughout the training, which enables the completion of the peer education cycle”.

Young people who have participated in the training and the performance stated that the project “rose their awareness in a warm and friendly environment”, have taught them how to “overcome prejudices through respect” and the working environment was a place not only good for education, but also for building long-lasting friendships.

Karl Kulessa, Representative of UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund Turkey

Karl Kulessa, Representative of UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund Turkey, said, “When I saw the play in Istanbul, a dramatic form was adapted in the play. Today, I saw the same play which this time used comedy to address this sensitive subject. Especially with regards to the successful performances and the accurate timing of the young actors, I have witnessed the audience reacting positively to this form. I congratulate you all on demonstrating this critical issue through comedy successfully. This year, we mark the 50th Anniversary of our organization. In addition, this year is a year for reminding the acceleration of promises and encouraging our partners to accelerate the action plans that were adopted 25 years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICDP). As it has been emphasized at the ICPD, access to the reproductive health services is a right. We also believe that, young people should have easy access to youth friendly health services and we carry on practices for this matter. I thank the young people who have been committed to raise awareness by giving out important messages during The Peer Theater Project, and to the team of the Youth Approaches to Health Association, who coordinates this project.

UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund’s Reproductive Health Programme Coordinator Dr. Gökhan Yıldırımkaya said, “UNFPA, continues pertinaciously to “combat HIV and AIDS”, which is among its Sustainable Development Goals. UNFPA coordinates projects on the sub goal of increasing the amount of knowledge regarding HIV and AIDS especially among young people. United Nations Population Fund’s Turkey Office and the Y-PEER (Youth Peer Network) Turkey, are working together to raise the youth’s awareness about reproductive health including HIV and AIDS, to improve and empower peer work, and to expand the Peer Theater Project. Young people, who gained experience on theater and peer projects, had been trained by professional instructors on both theater methods and HIV/AIDS, and performed a play, as a part of the Peer Theater Project, which had been designed within this context.

Peer Theater Project, which aims to transfer accurate information from peer to peer through theater, will continue to unite with young people in both Ankara and Istanbul, until the end of 2019.