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I just came back from Lagos, Nigeria. I was out there to support MTV’s Africa Award (MAMA) show which was amazing. I also went to Lagos to try to leverage resources for the production and campaign of Shuga 2, both through non-profit and commercial organisations, which led me to UNICEF.

Having a great global relationship with UNICEF, thought it would be good to meet with UNICEF in Lagos and give them first option to buy into Shuga. It was such an insightful meeting – maybe not necessarily for Shuga, but more insight of how HIV/AIDS is impacting people in Nigeria.

Like many places with low prevalence rates but large populations, Nigeria is still not taking HIV/AIDS as seriously as they should. Vulnerable people such as street children are significantly hard to reach – not only because they move around, but because programmes aren’t created for them with them. Policy papers and briefing notes aren’t truly capturing what these kids are going through, it’s the same issues that you read about but not really reflective of what is going on.

Sara, the head of UNICEF out there in Lagos, said she was not prepared for what she heard when she talked to street kids. Having previously served in Nepal, she was used to hearing shocking stories from the streets, but being told about kids selling kids for sex and their casual discussion of drug use, still upset her.

I can’t lie, it upset me too, and I wasn’t hearing it first hand. We talked about how to make sure that whatever we did was sustainable – these kids left home for a reason, we couldn’t be another group to let them down.

It’s not an easy project at all and one that will cost significant resources to undertake. I do get when Gates and others are saying that we’ve got to find cheaper solutions that are effective but I think the problem is everyone is now looking at the $ sign and not the actual project or innovative solution. Also I don’t get the idea of evidence base – evidence shows that peer education doesn’t work that well but people are still putting money into it. Evidence shows that media campaigns can and do work, but no one is investing in the right media initiatives. So… what’s really going on?

I think we could do something really good and rewarding, and informative for street kids and maybe even manage to create some sort of economic solution for them, but can we find the money for it? I hope so, I hope between UNICEF and MTV we have enough clout to make this project work, at least for the sake of those kids. Who knows, if it works in Nigeria, we could roll it out across other regions.

On the other side, the MAMAs were amazing – African music is set to take over the world. They have been in the shadows too long, but they are ready. The eclectic mix of artists from all over the continent – the best of the best – coupled with Eve, Rick Ross and T-Pain and the legendary Public Enemy gave an explosive experience that shows why MTV still is the best at what they do.

So nice to see something positive coming out of Africa again. When you live in the West, it’s easy to forget how much positive stuff is going on in Africa as all you ever hear about here is poverty, pain, civil strife, corruption and a host of other negative stories. If I for a moment wasn’t proud to be African, the MAMAs reminds me of everything that is right about Africa and makes me hold my head up just that much higher.

I’ve been back in the office for two days and I already feel like another holiday is needed! I have report after report to do and then back to writing funding proposals. Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t more to my job? Of course there is, it’s just that time of the year.

Speaking of that time of the year, it is MTV award season. The only real award show I get a tiny little bit involved in is the MAMAs – the MTV Africa Music Awards. Because I work so closely with the Africa team, I nag (they call it nagging it, I call it consistent pressure) them to include more social responsibility stuff in it. To be fair, most of the MTV award shows do, i.e. the Free Your Mind award for the Europe Music Awards – and Africa has something to, I forget what though…

This year the award show will be held in Lagos in December. On one hand I’m excited about this – because I love the Africa award show and the Nigerian music scene is so buzzing at the moment. But on the other hand, it’s Lagos! Hectic.

Still it’s an opportunity not to be missed, so while I’m writing all these reports, I’ll get the chance to brainstorm with the Africa team about how we can incorporate Shuga and/or other Staying Alive messaging into the MAMAs. That will be fun!

Also filming for the Zambia segment of our World AIDS Day programme has been completed. I’m looking forward to seeing what they got as I hear it went really well. I’m very excited about this programme. While it uses a well known MTV format, it’s still a first for us and fingers crossed it will work so hopefully we can turn it into a series. Oh that reminds me, it’s time to start brainstorming what we to mark 30 years of HIV/AIDS next year. Actually scary to think that this virus has been around for pretty much all my life.

Last night I watched this documentary about Zimbabwe’s lost children, it really could have been the story of so many kids in pretty much any country across Africa. Was heartbreaking. HIV/AIDS can be a manageable disease, but only when you’re in the right situation i.e. you can get treatment – including basic medication for opportunistic diseases and other illnesses – you can get proper nutrition, sometimes these kids went without food the whole day – and just decent sanitation.

There’s still so much to be done, and watching that programme really highlighted how HIV/AIDS is not something that can or should be addressed alone. HIV/AIDS exacerbates existing problems, certainly ones dealing with poverty. We have to do more.