Youth champions in the West Nile district of Nebbi have committed to spearheading the implementation of the Every Hour Matters (EHM) campaign by using the youth engagement toolkit that they have been trained on to provide  post-rape care services, support to rape survivors, and follow-up with perpetrators

They made the commitment recently during the training of trainers (ToTs) for the EHM campaign youth engagement toolkit for youth champions organized by the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) in partnership with the Infectious Disease Institute Makerere, held on June 9th, 2022 in the district.

The EHM campaign is a global campaign spearheaded by Together for Girls, and it aims at increasing awareness about the critical importance of timely access to post-rape care services for survivors of rape because every hour matters.

The campaign asserts that HIV can be prevented if survivors receive life-saving medication (PEP) within 72 hours, emergency contraception can help prevent a pregnancy if accessed within 120 hours, and medical help for physical trauma may be urgently needed depending on the situation.

The training brought together 18 youth champions, including youth council leaders, civil society organizations (CSOs) representatives, community groups, journalists, and peer educators, among others, so to learn and familiarise themselves with the toolkit so that they can use the knowledge to conduct EHM sessions and provide post-rape care services in their respective communities and in schools.

While opening the training session, the Nebbi district youth councilor, Savior Rwothomio, noted that knowledge gaps have been a major issue among youth leaders, especially on how to support SGBV survivors and service provision.

“Many of us have the will to support people in our communities, especially those facing SGBV. However, finding the right steps to follow has been a challenge. In most cases, we are also faced with conflicts resulting from restrictive cultural norms, “he added.

However, Rwothomio asserts that this is brought about by a lack of in-depth knowledge on how to deal with cases. He notes that the training is going to greatly benefit young people in capacity building and knowledge acquisition.

While facilitating a session, Ms. Brenda Alumura, the EHM project lead, emphasized that the participants put into practice what they have learned when they go back to the community.

“You are a representative of many, and because we know you have different platforms that you access both at the district and community level, we urge you to spread the message.” Tell them how it is important to first go to health facilities for services before the police.” She said

Brenda urged the trainees to use the various platforms like in churches, mosques, community gatherings, school outreaches, and even at drinking joints to make people speak about the campaign and pass out key messages on post-rape care services.

“You may need to translate these messages to the local language so that people can properly understand them, but you should ensure that the message is clear like it is in the toolkit and not altered.” She emphasized

Aisha Acan, a community activist, says that initially they thought taking survivors to the police was the first step when supporting a survivor, but from the training, she has learned that it is important to first rush the survivor to a health facility for medical attention.

At least during their saving group’s weekly meetings, she will always share with the women and girls the EHM campaign and at least pass one or two messages from the toolkit, noting that with time, the message will spread.

While Anyolitho Felix, a journalist working with Rainbow Radio, a local radio station in the district, says from the toolkit, he will develop DJ mentions and spot adverts to create awareness and also lobby for airtime in the health talk show slot for different stakeholders to talk about the campaign and emphasize the need for the provision of post-rape care services.