E-newsletter Oct 2009
A communications initiative for a balanced, planned and stable population
PF fills info gap on Thane youth’s sexual health needs
We define ourselves as a communications initiative for a balanced, planned and stable population. Among others, this involves addressing the health issues of one of the largest segments of our population- the youth. In the course of the fieldwork under our AMCHI project in 50 villages of Thane’s Shahapur block, we realized that there is a dearth of reliable information on reproductive and sexual health issues for the adolescents and youth. Being a region where early marriages and motherhood are common and where youth are sexually active at an early age, this information gap is leading to several problems.
Young girls and mothers suffer from anaemia, malnourishment, unwanted pregnancies and miscarriages. Naturally reproductive tract infections (RTI) and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are also common.
As a preventive intervention for better adolescent reproductive and sexual health (ARSH), it was decided that a series of workshops would benefit the youth who would soon start their own family. Two workshops were organised at:
1. Kanva village, under Kanva sub-centre, Takipathar PHC
2. Piwali village, under Piwali Mobile Unit of Aghai PHC
The objectives of the workshop were to give reliable information about ARSH, clarify doubts, burst myths, and essentially provide a platform for free expression of views and opinions. We hoped to provide them life skills in order to make them think and take informed decisions in future.
The timings and dates were chosen as per the convenience of the participants. Despite this being a busy time for the youth who were required for agricultural work, they were keen to attend the workshop. The support of the other stakeholders in village development like the women’s self-help groups, school teachers and members of the Gram Panchayat was elicited to ensure good participation. The SHGs offered to provide lunch and tea to the participants and the workshops were held in the school premises or Gram Panchayat. The PF team conducted the workshops using discussions, exercises and games to get the participants thinking and opening up about these topics.
Kavita Bhere, one of the participants, said at the end of the workshop, “Even though I had attended a session on reproductive and sexual health in college, I could understand the subject much better today.”
Some of the youth seemed uncomfortable in discussing these issues or asking questions. At the Piwali workshop, 36 girls participated and showed eagerness to understand their reproductive cycle. Besides, they were also asked to think about the restrictions they have to face as soon as they start growing up and why these restrictions are put on them by their families.
Sambhaji Nipurte, 16, who participated enthusiastically, said that many of the myths regarding the sexuality were dispelled during the workshop.
PF organises a learning experience for village leaders of AMCHI Project
After five years of working in the field in the villages of Shahapur, we have been able to identify a few men and women who have shown remarkable leadership qualities. They have shown a deep commitment to village development and are very responsive to our efforts. As a step towards honing their skills, we organised a Vikas Darshan (Showing the path of progress) for these leaders. PF organised a day trip to two villages in Ahmednagar district which are world-renowned for their metamorphosis from being drought-prone and problem-ridden to becoming socially developed and economically prosperous. We planned to give them an opportunity to understand how two of Maharshtra’s greatest champions of village development, Anna Hazare and Popatrao Pawar transformed their villages, Ralegaon Siddi and Hivre Bazar respectively. Thirty six people responded to our invitation to Vikas Darshan.
The group was able to see first-hand the fruits of sustained and focused efforts by the villagers of the two villages.
Cleanliness of the village, well constructed houses, community property like school, anganwadi, gymnasium, community hall, apart from the regularly held gram panchayat with high turn out, no land being sold to outsiders, use of organic manures in the fields, cooperative sale of agricultural and dairy produce, equitable sharing of resources, collective responsibility of maintenance of the resources etc. impressed the visitors immensely
The stories of transformation from drought prone, problem ridden villages to self-sufficient, prosperous and empowered ones motivated the group to take concrete actions in their own villages. The last session of Vikas Darshan comprised preparing action plans by the group. These made the participants think of their problems as opportunities for development.
In planning this visit, it was important to make the chosen villagers realise that this was going to hold them in good stead for their own village development. So while Population First paid for 75% of the expenses, the remaining expenses were paid up by the participants or their villages. This also ensured the whole village played their role in executing the action plans developed during the trip.
The close interaction between participants also gave them an opportunity to share experiences of making change happen and learn from each other. For Population First, this has enabled the beneficiaries of our grassroots level intervention realise how our work has impacted them, indeed touched their lives.
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