Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Awareness Raising

ICS Cohort 1 of Association Manegdbzanga has been set the mission of delivering 14 hours of Awareness Raising sessions during the placement. To complete this task, we needed to find the schools, arrange a meeting with the Headmaster to set a date to be able to deliver the awareness raising session. We were further challenged to complete all of this in a period of only three weeks due to schools breaking up for the rainy season and exam season starting.  

After trekking through mountainous terrain, cycling in the midday heat and tumbling around in a taxi, we finally managed to secure and contact all of the schools in Nomgana. As internet is limited in the area, word of mouth was the easiest way of finding the location of the schools. Despite it being the end of the school year, 5 schools were excited to have us and arranged time for the sessions! In the end, we delivered 15 hours of awareness raising sessions in 4 days!

Our awareness raising session focused on sexual health as the area has many teenage pregnancies, limited healthcare for sexually transmitted diseases and a high prevalence of FGM (female genital mutilation). Throughout the sessions, we discovered that sexual health is a taboo subject, so there was a real need for open, safe spaces for these discussions in the community.

The team researched and delivered Awareness Raising sessions that covered STD’s, AIDS/HIV, FGM and early pregnancy. These topics were split into two one hour lessons, each with 3 activities to engage students. The lesson content had so much information that drummed up a lot of questions, causing nearly all the sessions to run overtime!

We were all nervous to present as there were over 80 pupils in each classroom between the age of 16 and 14! It was a daunting prospect but once we started and got to know the students we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.

Our national volunteers took the lead in the lessons, but the UK volunteers tried to involve themselves by reading out pre-prepared French dialogue and answering questions with the help of translation.  It was rewarding to see the students challenge us with new questions and query into the different types of contraception and how they work.

It was really fun to get to know the local young adults in the area, and try to promote our English and IT lessons to them. Whenever we cycle around we always see students that we have taught! 
Volunteers at an Awareness Raising session on sexual health

The picture shows one student who was demonstrating to the class how to put a condom on in the final quiz where students won sweets as prizes. You can see how popular the sessions were –students were spilling out of the door!

By Julia Lee

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