This blog post is written by Katie, a member of the Nurse Uganda Team who volunteered with us at the beginning of June in Kampala. Here, she reflects on her experiences volunteering with us, running a sexual health promotion day for Kids Club Kampala's Teens projects.
"On Tuesday Neil and I presented a sexual health promotion talk at the Kids Club Kampala site, fifty teenagers arrived, boys and girls aged between twelve to seventeen years of age, they sat there nervously as we introduced the topic, the aim of the session was to be interactive and encourage questions, we were asked to promote the ABC approach (abstinence, being faithful and use of condoms) which is used in Uganda to raise awareness in preventing HIV. We also provided pens and paper for them to ask questions they may have been too shy to ask. After the introductions we started the talk by asking the teens what they thought was a healthy / unhealthy relationship ….. Silence ….. So luckily prepared word prompts were to hand and we asked them to categorise them into healthy and unhealthy characteristics, this was the ice breaker we wanted! Then we asked them what is sex? Suddenly there were quiet nervous shy faces sat awkwardly fidgeting. We decided to sort the groups into boys and girls to talk about this and then we joined. It was interesting at this stage to see Neil and the boys were having a very active and lively discussion, me with the girls on the other hand was very different. The girls remained very quiet throughout, we then re joined and continued with our discussion on safe sex, HIV, STIs, the importance of consent and finished with a condom demonstration and answering the questions written on the paper. Then with the help of Jenny, Amelia and Gemma we scattered around so the teens could approach us individually with questions. The highlight from the day was the response and thanks we received when we asked them if they wanted us to show them how to use a condom, we received a huge round of applause as Neil and I ran off to prepare our props. During the demonstration their keen eager faces were watching every single step in amazement.
On reflection, that evening the group and I found we all faced very similar challenges during the session, collectively we found that compared to us the teens had very limited knowledge about sex and the general physical changes that happen to boys and girls during the adolescent years. Girls asked questions about periods, they appeared to lack understanding that it can be normal to experience pain, breast tenderness and headache during this time. The boys were concerned about their voices deepening and unexpected erections. Again in the groups girls were very shy, they asked a lot of questions about relationships such as how do you know when your in love? How to get out of an unhealthy relationship? And asking what advice they should give a friend who has been forced into unprotected sex, either for just sex or for money? Boys were a lot more lively and asked a lot more questions around sex, erections, and sexual stimulation for themselves. When we finished the presentation the two most important messages for us to get across were for girls to be strong and brave enough to say no, if they didn’t want to have sex and for boys to respect the girls choice. The second was, if they were unable to remain abstinent then to be safe and faithful and to use a condom correctly."