The Youth Health Organisation (YOHO), a non-profit making outfit that aims at spreading the health awareness message to the youth, turned 10 years this month.
Events to celebrate their birthday have been going on around the country and will eventually end on the 15th of June.
YOHO was started in May 1999 and its entire staff then was made up of unpaid volunteers who depended on donors.
The volunteers then were mainly youth who used the organisation as a “resting station” while waiting to go for tertiary education.
Over the years, it moved from eight to 100 volunteers, plus skilled, qualified and paid staff.
Tsholo Seitshiro, a finance officer at YOHO who has been with the organization since 2002, said, “It requires someone to be multi tasked because, as a volunteer, you can’t afford to be fixed in one place.” Seitshiro has done most of the jobs found at YOHO.
Mandla Pule, also a volunteer since 2001, went to YOHO after he was recommended by a friend. Pule has had interaction with the police before seeking refuge at YOHO.
The Executive Director of YOHO, Vuyisele Otukile, said, “We have grown from meetings under a tree to office site in 10 health districts.” Otukile said that the majority of the competent staff is the youth who have either started as volunteers and then took school part time or simply came to YOHO with qualifications.
YOHO has, over the last several years, managed to travel to four continents to share their knowledge and ways of how to implement youth programs.
YOHO has used home brewed games to try and reach the majority of the youth in primary schools. One of the programs is the triple E -Education, Entertainment and Empowerment.
One of the most criticized slogans for fighting the HIV spread was the ‘Do it yourself’, which means masturbation as an alternative to having sex.
YOHO, however, has never stopped encouraging the already popular slogan ‘Abstain, Be faithful and Condomise’.
It has also trained more than 5000 youth in life skills for HIV prevention and has managed to mobilize youth to donate more than 2000 pints of blood, but still feel that it is not enough.
YOHO has many partners, both locally and internationally, mainly in the USA and Canada, who offer technical support.
Recently, YOHO received a sum of US $5 million to finance its programs.
It has published two musical albums, six documentaries and staged drama videos by community-based youth groups.
The celebrations will end with dinner where the corporate world will be able to attend following month-long celebrations.