Why is this project important for the youth in Ilam?
“Sexual and reproductive health education is completely new for the youth in Ilam. It is not taught in school. And there are many topics which are not discussed at all. When the project was launched in 2016, people started to talk about these topics, also openly. Now young people are also talking about their sexual and reproductive health problems, such as changes in the body, reproductive organs and other parts of the body without hesitation. So it is good that they can talk about these things among young people but also with their family.
These questions were always hanging around in their minds; young people were suffering. Most of them thought that it was secret; sex and sexuality was too personal so we should not talk about it. Now, young people know that it is nothing to be quiet about it. Everybody is experiencing the same thing. After realising this, young people have more time to do other things, like focussing on studies, and doing their assignments better. Doing this helps the society to improve.”
How can your group of peer educators reach other young people?
“Our peer educators are selected because they have good communication skills. They give true information and they are trusted, also by the other parents. Innovation will attract other young people. I mean, the project and the topic are new. The way we discuss sexual education is also new. We are using a non-lecture method such as role plays, group discussions, campaigning, such as organising hiking trip combined with ‘sexual talk’. Another example is that we organise bingo combined with sexual educational questions. And so on.
Continuity is also important. We do sessions every week, so people are motivated to come. During market days we ask random questions and give out gifts such as condoms or booklets with sexual and reproductive health information. I also have an idea to use the social media to share SRHR information. Moreover, what the youth is learning from the project is fruitful for their future. Therefore, we are attracting many young people to participate in the project.”
Why do you like to work for this project and what are the challenges?
“I already worked in this area before. I am used to it and it is of my personal interest, also to work with the youth. I like to work for the society. The time that is consumed in thinking around sexuality should not occupy the minds of the young people too much. I would like to break taboos so that it will benefit the society as a whole. Now, I can communicate well with all types of people. I know how to speak with different people like officials, elderly, children, young people, and with different ethnic groups. I know the society well and I can also work with them. It creates better opportunities for my future. In terms of problems, we encounter very little although some older people–those who are very traditional and conservative–might not want these topics to be in the open. One person, when asked a sensitive question during the market day, reacted strongly by saying that it is not the business of young people. “