Category Archives: Uncategorized

So, what’s you move?

dance4life are extremely proud to announce the launch of their new exciting, interactive platform!

Young people all over the world are getting into action to stop HIV! Making a move to change the future. To share these amazing moves, dance4life has created an exciting, interactive platform, called the movement.

Take a look…and prepare to be inspired!

Young people are sharing their personal stories, their activities…a worldwide response to the HIV and AIDS  pandemic.  Young people standing up and making a stand. Making a move.

With half of all new HIV infections among young people under 25, we need to take action now. That’s why we want to involve you! So, tell us, what is your move? go !


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Three girls on a mission!

As promised, here’s a report from a couple of my colleagues visiting Zambia to explore restart possibilities for dance4life Zambia…read and enjoy!

“The mission: Having met with a number of possible implementing partners over the past few days, today it is time to go external and let everyone know that dance4life Zambia is still here!

The team: Kate Pruce, regional programme manager Africa, Zganga Mvula, international youth council member and Susan van Esch, manager youth involvement.

So here we go: first stop, the National AIDS Council to meet with the Executive Director. It was quite a wait but worth it, as the meeting gave us the chance to learn more about the national strategies and plans and discuss how dance4life aligns with them. Equipped with this knowledge (and a packet of stroopwafels – dutch people know what I mean :-)) we went for a meeting with the Dutch embassy, a regular on our visits to the countries. As unfortunately, due to the new plans of the Dutch government, Zambia is no longer one of the core countries for the Dutch development aid, our meeting focused on identifying embassies that would continue the work on youth and SRHR. This turned out to be quite a challenge as due to the global situation and changes in government around Europe, many more countries are changing their funding portfolio and stepping out of Zambia. Odd –  as yes, there are quite some economical developments in Zambia, but this doesn’t seem to trickle down, and definitely not to the people in the rural areas.

The next visit however cheered us up. As a true dream team, we presented dance4life in Zambia to the country director of UNICEF who at the end was jumping in his chair with enthusiasm! And what a good coincidence that UNICEF is just looking into working more around comprehensive sexuality education for youth. That is exactly dance4life! Energised and hopeful, we left the office for an afternoon with the dance4life Zambia ambassadors Mix Master, Rizen Rizon, Hezron, Lulu and Matthew who manages the singer Rachel. Cactus unfortunately couldn’t make it, but luckily we did manage to meet him the following day to get his input. This was the first time all ambassadors were together in the same room and what a great energy it created with some many creative minds together! Different ideas on using art to empower youth, a greater involvement of the ambassadors in the project, on making dance4life known in Zambia tumbled over the table and led to a lot of laughter and innovative ideas to explore further. This was one of the first times dance4life organized such a sessions, but is definitely one to be replicated in other dance4life countries.

Inspired and fulfilled we ended the day, ready to continue our mission the next day!”

Thanks Susan! So, where will the next stop be for dance4life ? Keep tuned to find out…

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

dance4life has not been standing still…

It’s been a while.  But that doesn’t mean we have been standing still – take, for example, my colleagues from dance4life Netherlands, who are, as I write, on a project trip to Kenya and Malawi, together with dance4life ambassador and DJ Barry Paf.  Also on the trip are two young people, Sanne and Eline, who did some amazing fundraising for dance4life and are now privileged enough to see with their own eyes how their money is being spent!

Director of dance4life Netherlands, Anouk, gave me this update of the trip so far…

“We started out with ten people at Schiphol airport on Sunday morning. Most important travellers being Eline and Sanne, students from Groningen and Hellevoetssluis and Barry Paf, one of the Dutch ambassadors. All excited and some of us with just a few hours sleep (Barry!)…. anxious to get going. In Nairobi we met up with Jet, who will be staying in Nairobi for two months to research possibilities to have a Sensation edition in Kenya. It was already pitch dark when we arrived in Nairobi, so no clue about the scenery till the next morning. After a short night we left early for our ‘one day programme’  with dance4life Kenya. During our half our trip to the school we drove by Kibera slum,  one of the biggest in Nairobi. Incredible scenery, unimaginable for us to realise that 200,000 people are actually living here… Edwin, one of the dance4life staff in Kenya, explained that in these slums the risk to get HIV infected is obviously very high.

Arriving at the Nile Road Secondary school, although it is holiday time, at least twenty agents4change were already waiting for us. The amount kept growing and within half an hour more nearly 50 young people had arrived. After some hilarious icebreaking games, pretending we were attacked by lions or crocodiles, it was time for some serious sharing. Representatives of 4 schools prepared a welcome song, dance or play to introduce themselves and their culture. We were all moved by a poem about AIDS and its devastating impact on life in Kenya…  We could definitely improve our Dutch introduction skills here and prepare a more creative way to introduce some of our cultural values! But, we do have the drill!! And what a blast it was to do it together with the Kenyan agents4change!

One thing that is so amazing is the fact that all Kenyan agents4change are so extremely proud of being an  agent4change and they all take it really seriously!

During the day we had group sessions and talked about youth related issues and about the meaning and impact of being part of dance4life.  One that came up a lot was the fact that Kenyan youngsters just don’t talk about sex with their parents, and if parents happen to find a condom in your possession it’s very likely that you will be punished severely. A clear no go area. It was hopeful though, that lots of youngsters do get some information about reproductive health and rights in schools. But still, going back to their communities, it is a big taboo. A huge step forward was the revelation that youngsters who went through the dance4life programme felt the need to confront their parents with what they have learned and in a way ‘educate’ them. Isn’t that courageous and great! During these conversations, more and more youngsters opened up and felt free and respected to share personal thoughts and stories. After a long, hot and intense day of dancing and talking, sharing and hugging we said our goodbyes to at least 45 new Facebook friends! Some of these friends still had to walk 20 kilometers home so they could save the small amount of money they received for their transport to spend it on more basic needs. Can you imagine walking 40 kilometers a day to get educated?

I am in the plane to Malawi now. We left Jet behind and met up with a STOP AIDS NOW! colleague and fundraiser Marjon. Looking forward to this new experience. Till soon…


PS. Check out the blogs of Sanne and Eline,  on: & (in dutch)


And, for more photo’s go to facebook !!


Filed under Uncategorized

a peek behind the scenes with the dance4life communications team…

Young people all over the world are taking action within their communities to contribute to halting HIV and AIDS. It really is quite awe inspiring. But how do we let the rest of the world in on this amazing collection of personal stories? And, how do we ensure that these young people, whether in Kenya, Peru or India feel part of a global movement : that they can draw inspiration from the power of the masses?

The communications team’s key task this year is to indeed give the agents4change vehicles to “showcase” their activities and to draw inspiration from others.  Hence, the development of a so-called ‘social platform’…a dance4life story book, written by, and for, young people worldwide.

So, where do we start?

Since we see internet as the best low cost channel for storytelling we’ve decided to develop an online platform. You can see this as a stand alone website which links to Facebook and other social networks like Hi5, Vkontakte , Hyves and Twitter. Young people can post their stories, share their experiences – and connect with the world.

So, problem solved! Or not…? In countries with low internet penetration and low computer access (which is the case in many dance4life countries) we cannot reach all young people through the online platform. That’s why we decided to look for alternatives…

Mobile technology

After the buzz around social networks the new buzz word seems to be mobile. Especially in the developing world. Mobile technology and mobile phone use in the developing world is quickly increasing. Young people are considered enthusiastic adopters of mobile phones and avid users of text messaging. By the end of 2008, Africa had 246 million mobile subscriptions -and mobile penetration has risen from just five per cent in 2003 to well over 30 percent in 2009 and still rising (with internet penetration around 10%).

So what are the next steps?

To start off we put together a task force to work out possibilities for specific countries and services. Those are numerous.. of course we can sum up all the possibilities etc. but why not ask the experts themselves? Our agents4change; the young people at the heart of what it is all about!

So, this will be our first (baby) step; we will set up a poll (possibly surveymonkey) and distribute it through our own social media channels. Talking about empowering young people…

Interested in the results? Have any tips? Keep checking this blog or contact Martine at!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The dance4life international meeting : one youth council member’s story…

On the 14th of February, the week long international meeting kicked off in Amsterdam. dance4life representatives from 27 countries, and the dance4life youth council members spent 5 days planning, brainstorming and exchanging ideas. It was an inspiring week!

We were all very proud to have members of the youth council at the meeting for the first time. Their presence and input during the week brought a very valuable dimension to all the discussions. One of the youth council members, Zganga Taonga Mvula from Zambia, shared her experience of the first couple of days of the week with us :

“The Youth Council meeting kicked off with a wonderful feeling of excitement because everyone was  happy to see everyone else.  This was followed by an inspiring welcome from Eveline (Director of dance4life international), she started by  stressing how important it was  that we had attended the international meeting  and  how it was in

correspondence with one of the UNAIDS outlook Breaking news which said  ‘young people are leading the HIV prevention revolution’.  She mentioned how happy she was that we were being involved  because as  young people we have the greatest potential!

We started the meeting with a session in which  Natasha facilitated  on the dance4life platform, as a tool to help drive the movement (awesome!).  This was met by a positive response from the youth council members (obviously), as mostof the youth council felt it  was a great way to show- case activities by agents4change and other people involved/interested in dance4life(whether young or older) as well as exchange ideas and be heard.  In the same discussion, for the purpose of reaching even agents for change who are unable to access the internet, an offline newsletter is to be developed as of this year (yet another brilliant idea).  It will document stories of activities by agents 4change and dance4life activities that drive the movement.

With regards to evaluating, the NCO youth council relationships were analysed through the experience youth council members shared.  To help us achieve our goal or even just our plans, we need to identify who the stakeholders are, and devise how best we can work with them to drive the movement. We wrapped up Monday with dinner as YC.

Today (Tuesday), we had an interesting day at dance4life International office. We had a photo shoot and a session about time management. Then we reviewed and re- worked on our individual country plans where possible. After that, we looked at the transition and changes made regarding the next youth council year. In the evening, we had a beautiful dinner at a pancake-restaurant(surprisingly dinner was not just pancakes), it also turned out to be an actual karaoke boat as well. Boy did we have an amazing time out there whilst singing The Final Countdown, Barbie Girl, Paradise By the Dashboard Light, Wannabe and other instant classics. Definitely memorable!”

Thank you Zganga, for sharing your story! And your wonderful voice during the karaoke!


Filed under Uncategorized

Next stop…dance4life Peru…welcome on board!

Colleagues Katinka and Laura are visiting Peru for a start up meeting.  And from what they tell us, it certainly looks like dance4life Peru is on it’s way…

“Sitting with the dance4life Peru team in a cab, sweaty and dusty, we are thinking over the week. Today the press release was sent out and we have hardly had the time to diggest all the amazing experiences and how we moved forward. 

As of this week APROPO is our implementing partner in Peru. They are a family planning organisation with 27 years of experience and they are present in all cities in Peru with a focus on the vulnerable areas.

dance4life Peru will start in San Martin de Porres, a community in the north of Lima. where the programme will be implemented in schools. A network of youth leaders, linked to the local community centre will be implementing the programme and the participating youth will be involved in the youth network in order to create a sustainable programme. The team will start inspire in April.

 The local law system is very strict in sexual contacts (not before 18) and therefore the peruvian government is very conservative regarding comprehensive sexuality education in the schools. However, the changes to get into the schools in San Martin de Porres seems to be working as the education has been decentralized. 

We had excellent workshops with UNFPA, UNAIDS and the human rights department of the Dutch embassy, who all are very supportive. We also met with several corporates, the biggest press agency and the ministry of health. Last but not least: the director of the National AIDS Strategy, an interview with journalists of a big newspaper, a television interview AND we visited the youth community center where the pilot will take place. We gave a presentation at the community centre and they are thrilled to take dance4life forward and grow the movement.

 “I think it is excellent how youth are being motivated by dance and music to take action against HIV!” – Jaime, youth leader, 24 years de San Martin de Porres/Lima. 

Also, we made loads of friends, enjoyed the fantastic peruvian food, the hospitality of the peruvians and were very impressed by the experience and commitment of the whole team of our partner APROPO. And next week, they will participate at our international meeting in Amsterdam so everyone gets to meet them!

Oh and…to comfort the dance4life international team: we didn’t see any indigenous peruvian crocodiles…”


Thanks Katinka and Laura! Great stuff!

Next week, the dance4life international meeting will take place in Amsterdam. Representatives from 26 dance4life countries AND the youth council will join us to brainstorm, plan and, of course, have FUN! I will be updating you on events next week, so keep tuned!


Filed under Uncategorized

And we thought we’d left the crocodiles in Ethiopia…

As I wrote yesterday, my colleague Rupert is visiting dance4life kenya in Nairobi with DJ Chuckie and Duncan from Sensation.  Rupert had managed to get some more stories through to me: from testing to tour teams…and of course the crocodiles…

“Yesterday we drove to a VCT (Voluntary counselling and testing) clinic, stopping off at the Mathare slum on the way,where there was a lot of violence during the post election riots in 2007. The clinic is near the slum, and helps about 7000 people a month. The dance4life tour team have their office and equipment store there and they do various other youth activities on site. This is really important as it makes it easier for young people to come to the clinic to get tested.

We were shown around the clinic, saw how the testing is done- a small prick on your finger to draw blood and within minutes the results are clear to see on the test paper, similar to a pregnancy test. If you do test positive then there is further counselling, support groups and most importantly – medicine.

We asked about the age when young people in the area first have sex, and were told as young as 10 – not always by choice. More girls are being infected than boys because of forced sex and paid sex, some girls living on their own          have to pay the rent and other bills and so take on multiple boyfriends who give them cash presents.

The rest of the day was spent visiting an agent4change’s home and his school where DJ Chuckie raised the roof – that iswhen the electricity didn’t go off!

We went for dinner and ate some local delicacies, including crocodile. It was only at the end of the evening that our Kenyan colleagues explained that they didn’t eat the crocodile because they know people who have themselves been eaten by crocodiles, and it’s a bit like cannibalism..!”

Thanks Rupert!

Next stop Peru…so if you want to know more, watch this space next week…

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized