“Once an ambassador always an ambassador”

March 2, 2017

Henry and Tryphena were crowned Mr and Miss Y+ last year. This Y+ beauty pageant in Uganda however is not just another contest. It’s all about being the voice of and an inspiration for other young people living with HIV. In this double interview they talk about what Y+ ambassadorship has brought both them and their peers so far, and about their dreams for the future.

Inspire young people to also be someone in life

Tryphena: "The moment that we were crowned I felt so happy! A point in my life to fulfill my dreams and talk on behalf of young people. Before I was crowned I couldn't come out and talk about my status freely, I used to fear criticism at school and in our community. The contest truly gave me a voice and platform to make a difference. Being able to inspire other young people with HIV to overcome stigma and also go for their dreams, makes me so proud of myself.

"Henry: "In the villages and communities here, where I grew up, many tend to judge you, they call you 'the living dead'. They still think HIV is witchcraft, they don't know how a young person can get HIV. When they called me names it made me feel bad. But I became empowered at boot camp. I have big dreams."

"I believe in what I am doing, as young people we can be passionate in this fight. I believe in stepping up and fighting stigma. I decided to study and come out to inspire other people that they can also be someone in their lives", says Henry. 

If she can than so can I

Tryphena: "Out of regional contests 40 representatives were selected and brought together in a boot camp for a week. We got empowered, built our self-esteem and learned that we are important to the world, too. I got inspired by the former Miss Y+ and thought, if she can than so can I!

We won the pageant because we stood out from the crowd. We were judged on our public speaking skills, how we relate to others, how disciplined we are, how we handle all different kinds of conditions and how informed we are about HIV. They also looked at aspirations and what we can do for young people."