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Knowledge for Life; Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health

In this community, the youth in general had several problems before AFOD-Uganda came in. Of course we had other organizations coming in with various kinds of programmes but the issues that were troubling youths continued. Our major problems were that we did not have courage, knowledge and access to information and services that are related to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), HIV/AIDS prevention, pregnancy prevention and other diseases.

The youth had no knowledge on what to do to fend for themselves. The young people would do what they feel is good for them. Nobody cared for others. Our behavior was not any good. Most of us wanted to do experiments on sexual activities and we always ended in more problems like; teenage pregnancies and STI infections. As a result of this, we had so many school dropouts, many cases of teenage pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) in this community.

In 2016 we heard of the good news that an organization called AFOD-Uganda was in the District implementing a project that is directly linked to the youths. We were happy to note that the project was coming for the youth. Several trainings were done for the youths. These included; peer education, life skills education and psycho-social counselling. Some of our own fellow youths actually came to be involved and we felt very happy to see ourselves being fully involved. School children were also involved and these activities were also integrated into the school programmes. This created an excitement amongst the in  and out of school youths within the community. The parents began to support us and giving us permission to train and participate in our activities. The project brought a number of changes to lives of the youths in this community.
Some children who had dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy and early marriage re-enrolled in schools. Through the various trainings, the community also ended up with more knowledge about Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and even HIV/AIDS. The behaviour amongst us also changed quite significantly. The youths in this community began working together and doing many activities together as one community which was very rare before.

We started being confident in demanding for information and services from the health facilities. The youth in this community can now freely go and request for condoms, information and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Of all these changes we regard knowledge as the most significant. This is so because if we had not acquired this knowledge, we wouldn’t have gone anywhere. We can use this knowledge beyond the project life and it becomes a weapon for all of us and the generations to come.

Knowledge brings confidence and helps us to make informed decisions about our sexual lives. We wish to continue with the good behaviour that we have acquired and protect ourselves from preventable pitfalls.Although we still have problems in shortage of services, we hope that this gain will take us very far in as far as Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) issues are concerned for the youth. One tearful youth called Abio emotionally narrates,

“I have endured hardships, at the age of 19, I have two daughters aged four and two. Like most young people, I had dreams for the future but these were shattered when my parents forced me to get married at an early age, I did not know anything about condoms, learning about condom use from AFOD will help me protect myself, I will not have children again until I get a job that can sustain me” she says…. this knowledge I have acquired will be of great help to me forever”