3 Questions

Kepher Ogalo

Kepher Ogalo is a youth peer provider in Kisumu, Kenya, and is trained and supported by Simavi partner KMET. Orphaned at an early age, his motivation to work for youth SRHR was sparked by personal circumstances and family experiences. We talked to him about his work.

1

What are the main SRHR problems that young people in your area have? How can they be addressed?

“Teenage pregnancy is a problem faced by young people in my area and is still on the rise. In addition, young people are victims of sexual and gender-based violence and we hear that cases of abuse are not reported. Perpetrators are often close relatives and therefore parents prefer to settle the case without involvement of authorities. There are also cases where girls and boys have sex with much older men, sometimes in exchange for money. This makes it hard for young people to negotiate safe sex. Some young people have their sexual debut at a very early age, even as young as 9.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding SRH information and services in my area. Young people who use SRH services are seen as immoral. It is not permitted to discuss certain topics with young people in schools. For most parents sexuality is a taboo topic, which makes it impossible for young people to discuss sexuality issues with their parents or guardians.

In my opinion, we should not only target young people with SRHR information but also enlighten  parents and guardians on the importance of SRHR information. I also think that comprehensive sexuality education for young people should be introduced in primary and secondary schools. Informing young people on their sexual rights will help reduce sexual and gender-based violence cases among young people.”

2

What do you like most about your work as a youth peer provider? What is the greatest challenge in your work?

“As a peer educator, I provide other young people with SRHR information and link them to the nearest health facilities for SRH services. I usually give information in youth forums in schools and the community, and I make use of theatre and fashion events. I also discuss with young people one-on-one and provide information online through Facebook pages.

What I like most about my work is talking to my peers and giving them ideas on how to solve some of their problems. I am glad that I can share my experiences with other young people and I am proud to serve as a role model. After we organized youth forums in a school last year a teacher informed us that incidences of unintended pregnancies and related school drop-outs declined.

The greatest challenge in  my work is that when I  refer young people to health facilities they might fail to actually go to the facilities to get the services they need because of the large distance.”

3

What is your wish for the future regarding SRHR?

“I pray and hope that Kenya will become a country where young people can freely talk about their sexuality with their peers as well as with their parents and guardians.
I also wish that our government would accept and introduce comprehensive sexuality education as part of our education curriculum so that young people could acquire and share knowledge about SRHR as early as possible.”

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