” When I have my period is something broken inside me?”
Finding ways to keep girls in school is an important goal for the Kasiisi Project. To this end we supply all menstruating girls in our schools with sanitary supplies, and look for ways ways to support reproductive health education initiatives already in the curriculum. By the time they graduate from primary school almost all girls are menstruating, with some as old as 17, and it is likely that many are already sexually active since pregnancy is a frequent reason given for girls dropping out. This clear evidence that they are having unprotected sex is concerning in a country where the HIV infection rate is thought to be on the rise again and where young girls are disproportionally more likely to become infected. http://www.avert.org/aids-uganda.htm
In September 2008 a teacher and 3 girls from Kasiisi Primary School attended a 3 day reproductive education workshop organised by the Jane Goodall Institute (Uganda) and funded by the Nike Foundation. This workshop trained the girls to be peer counselors who would then become sources of information about puberty, sexuality and reproduction for other girls in their schools. Informal interviews in 2009 strongly indicated that these peer counselors were having an impact at Kasiisi that was not seen at other project schools. So in September, when Kasiisi girls attended a second workshop, 2 more schools, Kyanyawara and Kigarama, joined them. In May we carried out more formal evaluations of girls in the top 3 classes. We found that girls in schools which had peer counselors were significantly more knowledgeable about their bodies, sexuality and puberty than those in schools without the program.
For full report seeGirls Peer Education Evaluations
However the level of ignorance even in schools with peer counselors was alarming. More than 50 % of the respondents believing that they could not get pregnant the first time they had intercourse and that having sex with a virgin cured men of HIV/AIDS. Less than 1 in 5 listed the use of condoms as a way to avoid HIV/AIDS.
With the help of Kabajansi Lucy, our community health nurse who is in charge of health education in Kasiisi Project schools our aim is to take this program into 6 more schools in 2010 while continuing to support and expand its impact in schools where it it is already active. We hope that our data will support applications for funding that will allow us to to this.
Donations to support our girl’s program can be made through the paypal button. Please specify “girl’s program” with your donation.
Health Education class with Nurse Lucy