After the Christmas festivities I was on the road to Balaka where I went to attend a training session on Life Skills and Family Planning for teen mothers and married adolescents. The training was organized by Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) in an effort to expand access of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights services among the hard to reach populations in Malawi. The overall objective is to reduce HIV infection and prevalence among the targeted hard to reach groups of people.
The morning session started with a very strong and exciting tempo and I have to confess that I did not manage to attend the other previous two sessions. Frankly speaking, I have to admit that I really missed a lot.
The session was organized for a group of about 40 young ladies comprising of unmarried teen mothers and married adolescent girls and each one of them had a story to tell.
What struck me most was that all their individual accounts seemed different but they all revolved around a certain analogous ending- early and unplanned pregnancies. According to most of the girls, the pregnancies came about due to a single day of ecstasy and euphoria with some young men that eventually led to the inevitable happening.
They ended up in withdrawing from their studies either temporarily or for good, some had some serious complications during child birth and many other ordeals.
After this particular session under discussion, all the girls were like ‘I wish I had been told this a bit earlier’. What does this statement tell us?
It shows that there is a lot that has to be done and that issues concerning sexual reproductive health of adolescents should be taken seriously. This among other strategies, calls for the once vibrant youth clubs to be rejuvenated and concerned NGOs will be visiting you (the youth) through your designated clubs.
On our part, we just have to make sure that necessary structures are in place so as to ease the trouble that some people who want to help us go through whenever they want to reach us. Let us open our eyes and see the challenges that are affecting our fellow young boys and girls in our neighbourhoods.
The training session I am talking about opened my eyes and I will not memorize the day it happened but I will memorialize the significance of it and all the adolescents I met there- I am wishing them a happy and a prosperous new year!!!