I have had an amazing opportunity and a well-raised platform from where I learned workable solutions in the field of reproductive health and rights but also, I have had to unlearn those I found useless. The different societal stereotypes in the ever-changing working environment.
I have acquired new skills that have hitched my potentials as a social scientist and more so as a prospective gender activist.
Many key highlights but more significantly was the Kyegegwa field tour experience. I had never been to the refugee camp until this opportunity sufficed. Growing up in the city and being a town girl, where there is an easy flow of information sometimes gives a deceptive impression.
The journey to Kyegegwa and specifically Kyaka II refugee camp proved me otherwise. I got to realized that actually, in some parts of Uganda, the use of modern contraceptives is largely fairy-tale and yet it shouldn’t be undermined. Young girls and boys don’t think that family planning is the necessity. Very few know that teenage pregnancy and child marriages are detrimental to their lives. No wonder, this young district (Kyegegwa) has the highest level of teenage pregnancies, child marriages, and school dropout rates compared to the rest of the districts in the country. This got me thinking about what I can do as a young privileged elite girl to save a life or two in my lifetime.
One of the biggest problems I noticed in the camp was the lack of information and access to sexual reproductive health and rights services. The interactive sessions with the youth change champions in that district who we trained on how to combat teenage pregnancies and early marriages were also key. The thought of ‘we left a work workforce in the field working tirelessly to combat teenage pregnancies in such an area of the underprevelaged-Refugees was a little satisfying’.
This one key highlight is among many others like books before babies and community outreaches where I realized that the biggest challenge we are facing is a stigma. Be it in the area of HIV, Menstruation and other bodily changes. It wasn’t shocking that boys knew a lot about teenage pregnancies, it was just shocking that even when they know, sharing among themselves makes them shy away in dispute. I particularly fell in love with the UYAHF approach of engaging both girls and boys at the same time.
This brakes the existing stigma because at least both got to know that menstruation is not a choice and it’s normal.