Thanks to the generous support given by GlobalGiving donors and the Conservation, Food and Health Foundation, Marie Stopes International Afghanistan (MSIA) has taken some important first steps towards implementing this innovative project that will train and empower religious leaders' wives to serve as sexual and reproductive health champions in Balkh province, Afghanistan. Balkh province was selected as the pilot province for this project due to the community’s religious and cultural acceptance of spacing between births.Within the first two months of this project, a number of activities have already taken place. First, Farhad Javid, the Project Manager and Country Director, met with religious advisors in the area to ensure they feel a sense of ownership of the project and ultimately support its intended outcomes. This support from local religious leaders is essential to gaining acceptance within the community and implementing the project as smoothly and effectively as possible. Second, the selection process of religious leaders’ wives is underway in the urban areas where Marie Stopes International Afghanistan (MSIA) believes the project activities will be best received. Once the activities demonstrate effectiveness and receive approval and support from local society, MSIA will expand its efforts into more rural areas.In addition, MSIA has strengthened its linkages with the Sisters’ Directorate of Ministry of Religious Affairs who have kindly agreed to assist in the development of a tailored curriculum about family planning and reproductive health for the religious leaders’ wives. Since this is the first time in Afghanistan that religious leaders' wives have been engaged in community education activities, nutrition health education related to breast-feeding, pregnancy, and young children will also be included as supplementary subjects to compliment the sexual and reproductive health education. Once the training syllabus is finalized and the selection process is completed, the wives will begin to receive training in their homes on an individualized basis by expert health educators from MSIA’s clinics.
MSIA enthusiastically thanks everyone who donated to this important and groundbreaking project. We look forward to providing you with regular updates on our progress!
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