With our vision of envisaging communities in which women, youths and children can claim/exercise their rights, as well as access the educational, natural, and financial resources to live dignified and fulfilling lives, RuWCED keeps extending it activities to remote communities. It is in this light that we carried out health sensitization campaign and educational talk in Donga-Mantung Division, visiting some schools, council and stakeholders. As we work in a conflict zone, we believe that protecting and catering for women/girls in conflict settings is a complex issue that requires a multi-dimensional approach.
Menstrual health advocacy have a strong advantage when it comes to promoting menstrual health management practices especially in schools and rural communities. This equips young girls with the desired skills and knowledge to connect with communities. This goes same with the promotion of safe and post abortion care.
Our first stop was in Ndu Subdivision where we had a great time with the lovely population. We were welcomed by the First Deputy Mayor of the city, who doubles as the principal of one of the schools at which we carried our sensitization. He warmly received the RuWCED Team comprising of our Reproductive Health Expert, Outreach Coordinator and a Community Focal Person, who was so instrumental to the team. The Mayor expressed happiness with our initiative and equally commended the efforts of our Community Focal Point who has been working so hard within the community before our arrival. He then gave the go ahead for the activities, in the capacity of the Lord Mayor.
Sensitization in Ndu started in Government High School (G.H.S). Sensitization was done in sets, to familiarize the students with our program. First with the girls and later on with the boys and then, boys and girls of the senior classes were merged. Many school staff and teachers were present at each session. Our sensitization focused on educating the students on STIs, values, menstruation and menstrual hygiene, proper hygiene of the female reproductive organ, Gender Based Violence especially harmful traditional practices like, FGM, breast ironing, forceful and early marriages and rapes which seems to be recurrent in the area. Hundreds of students attended the program. To blend theory with practical, demonstration on the proper use of a pad was carried out and in each session, at least 2 girls were brave enough to do the demonstration despite the jarring from their classmates. Hundreds of pants and pads were distributed to the girls, and they were so happy about this, especially that it is very difficult to access these basic items in the communities in which we carried out the program.
In another session, RuWCED merged the boys and girls of G.H.S Talla and educated them on hygiene, secondary sexual characteristics for both sexes, values and boundaries, puberty especially the occurrence of wet dreams for boys and strong sexual feelings for girls, juvenile delinquency and drug abuses. The vice principal appreciated RuWCED for the great work and he pleaded for more of these talks to keep coming. We equally distributed sanitary pads and pants to the female students. To make sure that girls of all ages were reached, we caried out our sensitization to some primary schools with pupils of class 4 -6 in Mbiyeh community. These young pupils were very happy and expressed the interest to learn more.
We had a meeting with Teachers and school administrators which was very engaging. They were very happy to have some exchanges with the RuWCED Team and to share some of the challenges they are facing as teachers and administrators during the ongoing arm crisis in this region. The need to Support and Protect the girl child was echoed during this meeting and one of the ways to empower a girl child is to empower her to Speak Out when faced with challenges and never to shy away. After a session with teachers/school administrators on how they can use trauma informed approaches in schools to better help students solve some common problems and challenges without hard disciplinary measures, the team headed to the Ndu Community Radio for a sensitization program on air. The over 45 minutes radio program was very interactive and some of the topics treated included menstruation, Gender Based Violence,Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), breast ironing, rape, early and forceful marriage, values and reproductive health rights. We thank the Radio Station Manager for giving us this opportunity to reach out to many people within the community through the radio program.