Last month, all thirty of our wonderful peer educators, working with the Ni-Yetu Youth Program, gathered at the Girl Up Initiative Uganda Office for their third quarterly reflection meeting. The peer educators work within the five divisions of Kampala, each organizing peer-led outreach sessions with 25-30 out-of-school youth, to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and to prevent gender-based violence (GBV). Having them convene to share their successes, overcome their challenges as youth leaders, and increase their knowledge on certain topics is essential to the effectiveness of the program. Thus far, the peer educators have reached 2,691 youth in Kampala, and they are now preparing to start conducting outreach sessions with the next group of peers!
Following breakfast and networking amongst themselves, the peer educators listened to Ms. Hajara Namuyimbwa, a registered nurse, discuss sexual health.
The peer educators shared their understanding of sexual health, but mentioned that they faced challenges on explaining the difference between STIs and STDs during their outreach sessions. The nurse gave them a synopsis on STIs, STDs, their differences, symptoms, and appropriate medical action. The peer educators also inquired about safe days, the period of time during a woman’s menstrual cycle when her chances of becoming pregnant are supposedly lower, due to the lack of access to condoms in their communities. The nurse clarified that safe days are not an effective form of birth control and the absence of a condom puts the participants at risk of contracting STIs. Therefore, she urged the peer educators to encourage their peers to use condoms to reduce the risk of contracting STIs and HIV so that they can live healthy lives. The meeting was a success. The peer educators were appreciative for the medical information that was passed onto them. Afterwards, Susan, a peer educator from Makindye Division said:
”With this information, I will make sure my group members are having the right information and practicing good sexual reproductive health practices.”
The second part of the session focused on creative facilitation, problem-solving techniques, and team building. It was lead by a team from the Bwongo Think HUB.
They conducted multiple collaborative problem-solving activities to improve the peer educators leadership skills, motivation, communication skills, and respect for one another. Using creative facilitation, they modeled to the peer educators how to use unique, team based activities to achieve specific objectives.
Thanks to the activities, Calvin, a peer educator from Kyebando Division, discovered:
“A peer educator may be doing well whereas his colleague is finding it hard in their activities. One who is doing well needs to help the other such that they share success. That is when the program will be successful.”
This reflection meeting empowered the peer educators with new knowledge in sexual health and creative facilitation skills. They developed their knowledge and leadership skills, helping them in their mission to teach SRHR and end GBV in their communities.
At the end of the meeting, the peer educators wrote personal commitment statements so they remain accountable to themselves, the Ni-Yetu Program, and Girl Up Initiative Uganda. We look forward to continuing to support the thirty peer educators as they continue to educate and empower out-of-school youth.