On 27th February 2020 change champions organized a school outreach at St. Lawrence primary school Kisasi that engaged young people on things that challenge their health lives. They started by sharing with them about the Books before Babies campaign which aims at empowering out of school and in school children with information on benefits of prioritizing books before babies. and the topics to be covered during the outreach. The school outreaches are safe spaces for the pupils since they get an opportunity to freely share their stories, ask questions and the change champions guide them during these discussions.

Patricia gave opening remarks on behalf of all the change champions and emphasized the need to share age appropriate information with the various ages of the pupils in school. The first topic was puberty which was handled by Patricia who asked the pupils present what it means to them. The pupils shared various answers to the posed question and many had an idea about it but had a lot of wrong information surrounding puberty. The facilitator shared the right definition, types of changes, the changes girls and boys experience and how to handle them during puberty. During puberty one experiences biological, physical and emotional changes. During puberty girls and boys experience different changes as they transition into adulthood.

The second topic was menstruation which was also handled by UYAHF’s change champion. The pupils were asked for the meaning of menstruation, materials used during menstruation, how to keep clean among others. The pupils gave various answers to what menstruation is such as the period, blood coming out of a girl among others and went ahead to share some of the materials used such as pads, clean water, cotton wool among others. The facilitator emphasized the need to keep clean during this period and shared ways in which this can be done for example putting on clean and dry knickers, bathe at least twice day and change knickers regularly among others.

Patricia UYAHF’s change champion facilitating a session on puberty

Gender equality was the third topic and facilitated by Mary and started off by giving its definition as, Equality is a condition where every man and woman have equal access to resources and everything in the society for example when boys and girls are being take to school and even attain the same knowledge without favoring either the boys or girls. The facilitator went ahead and informed the pupils some of the ways that can help us achieve gender equality if men and women are being treated as the same without favoring one gender at the expense of the other. Therefore, gender equality involves the whole population that is both men and women having equal access to resources without one sex benefiting at the expense of the other. The facilitator went ahead to share the Reform 53 together for legal equality campaign which is a six months advocacy campaign calling for all governments of the 53 countries to reform discriminatory laws. The campaign will feed in to the CHOGM campaign 2020 that will be held in Rwanda where common wealth countries will be asked to commit to reforming laws that discriminate against women and girls. UYAHF encourages young people to join our campaign, get together and stand for our rights and together we are unbeatable force that can compel our governments to reform discriminatory Laws.

Closing remarks were given by both the headteacher and the head prefect. The head teacher thanked the pupils for being good listeners and also encouraged them to take the discussion to other people who did not make it. She appreciated the change champions  for the good work done  and for sharing the knowledge with the  pupils because they thought menstruation was only for girl and they could not discuss such issues with boys but it’s a lesson to them always to engage both girls and boys in every discussion because the both have a role to play.

The head prefect thanked her fellow pupils for paying attention and also to take the discussion seriously as not may schools get such opportunities. She advised girls to always believe in themselves and fight menstruation stigma as the visitors have discussed. She appreciated the visitors and hoped to see the discussion back in their school.The change champions take away lesson was that teachers need to be sensitized on engaging both girls and boys on health issues like menstruation and HIV prevention and menstruation stigma starts from the teachers and then to the pupils.

Pupils of St. Lawrence posing for a group picture.