Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. An approaching cyclone meant he was unable to travel to the south to see this project, but Save the Children USA arranged a visit to another project also using the peer educator approach. On May 26th he visited a life skills education session in the Mirpur area of Dhaka. His “Postcard” from the visit:
Monira Akhter stands in front of thirteen of her peers in the sitting room of the home of one of the girls. She holds up a training manual as a visual aid as she leads a discussion on the obstacles in the way of young people in their community reaching their goals, and how putting in to practice some basic life skills can help overcome these barriers. The teenagers are Monira’s neighbors or friends, or came along with one who is. Monira, a peer educator trained by Save the Children’s local implementing partner HASAB, uses the situation of one of the young women as an illustrative example. She’s 14 years old and less than thrilled about her impending arranged marriage. It seems the preexisting trust among participants, as well as the educator, that would allow such a personal conversation is one of the chief advantages of this peer educator approach.
I ask the group why they came in their time off to this training. The education will help me in my daily life. It is practical. I’m close to the peer educator. HIV/AIDS is difficult to understand. We were looking forward to the training so much we came 30 minutes early (and stayed an extra hour for what was scheduled to be the first of three one-hour sessions).
Will you come to the other two sessions? Yes, we must complete the training. Besides, we’re on vacation from school. Do you know others who have done this training? I heard about it from a fellow garment worker. This is actually my second time going through this training. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned thus far? When changes happen during adolescents there is a lot of fear and pressure, but this is wrong. I learned how to achieve my goals.
HASAB and the Peace and Rights Development of Society youth group have reached over 4,000 young people through these sessions. Since people participate largely through social networks, they’re often able to stay in touch with their peer educator and other participants. These local NGOs also encourage them to visit their “youth-friendly corner” at their office with more information on topics covered. They say 15-20 youths do so each month.
Overall this seems like an effective approach to educating youth on important, personal topics. I hope the program is as well run by Save the Children USA’s partners in the southern part of the country.
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