Youth organisation reps at training
The past few months we’ve been working with Youth-Focused Organisations (YFOs) in Zomba district to promote Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR) and HIV and AIDS awareness. Though schools and colleges were closed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth organisations continued to engage people in their communities.
Having trained representatives of 8 youth organisations in using Human Centred Design (HCD) and participatory arts approached to tackle ASRHR challenges in their communities, we are excited to see how the organisations have designed their projects and even more excited to see the varied interventions that they are coming up with.
It all started with Anxious Youth Organisation (AYO) whose project is being implemented in the area of T/A Malemia in Zomba. It was so exciting to see AYO use participatory methods to promote use of family planning methods in the area. “It is great to see AYO promote use of family planning methods among adolescents in this area, there are a lot of girls who have dropped out of school due to unplanned pregnancies so this will help” said the chief in her remarks on the project.
As they say lessons learnt are nothing if not put into use, AYO tailored their activity around various participatory arts approaches. Using the concept of HCD, they performed art forms common to the people. They did chioda, a local dance to get people into the grove and then through comedy they did a condom demonstration and lastly the main meal- forum theatre. They said that forum theatre provided for a safe space to talk ASRHR which is why they used it and it didn’t disappoint because the audience opened up and discussed possible solutions to the influx in teen pregnancies.
They took us through a journey of a mother who is offended that a fellow woman was telling her daughter about family planning. To her this was an encouragement for the daughter to be sleeping around. It was great how they got the audience through participatory arts to address various challenges that adolescents face in the quest for family planning and various barriers to accessing valuable information like that around mental health.
Can young people freely and honestly discuss SRHR with their parents? For CEPERAM through their research they found out that it is not easy for parents and kids in areas of Mingu, Mindano and Thom Allan in Zomba to discuss SRHR. So, they have embarked on a project to encourage open and honest conversations between parents and their children around ASRHR. On their first community awareness campaign CEPERAM used various participatory art forms too. Their cultural troop performed cultural songs. Through forum theatre, they addressed misconceptions around sex and they made a fun but educative demonstration on proper condom use.
Apart from advocating for open conversations between parents and Children, CEPERAM also facilitated the community to identify peer educators in their target community who they will train and equip with the right ASRHR knowledge which they will eventually be using to educate fellow youths in their respective areas.
Looking back at these interventions that these YFO’s are doing we are excited about two things. How they are using participatory arts approaches in all ways possible and how through HCD they are able to understand that they are not there to provide solutions but rather to facilitate people to generate solutions to issues they face in the community.
Using traditional dance in community engagement