In July, the adolescent health groups of the Comité Évangélique de Communication pour la Santé (CECS) organized community events in each village where the ten groups met. Their peer educator thought that the girls and boys, who had been in the program since late 2013, were now ready to show their family and friends what they learned and present the program to the wider community.
“I am always quite shy,” one participant said, “but during the lessons we did a lot of skits and songs so that when it was time to perform for our village, I knew what to say and do. It was a lot of fun! Everybody was there, and they all told me how impressed they were with our presentation.”
In each of the villages, the participants did several skits that were entertaining but carried a serious message too. They were about topics like forced marriage, HIV and AIDS, and teen pregnancy. Each audience was then invited to participate in a quiz on the program’s topics.
The questions that the participants asked were designed to help parents think about the reproductive health issues of their children, such as, “Why is it bad for a girl’s health to get pregnant when she is in her mid-teens?” “What is rape?” and “Why should we avoid forced marriage?”
“This program is very important,” said Pastor Sene St. Louis. “There are so many problems in our communities. Not all of the children are able to go to school, so they need another way to learn how to behave. I wish we were able to have more adolescent health groups, because there is a lot of need. The community event is a big encouragement to our volunteers, so I hope that it will help the program grow when it continues next year.”
Parents who enroll their children in the adolescent health program are routinely asked by CECS staJ to provide written permission for their children to attend. Then the parents are informed about the program’s focus and scope during a parents’ meeting. However, because communication between teenagers and their parents is often limited, parents are still often unaware of what their children are learning. So, one of the goals of the community events is to improve communication between parents and their children. “Now I understand why my son participated in this program every Monday and Friday afternoon,” said one parent in Mbellonguite village. “When I saw him and his friends ask questions about health, I was proud of him because he has learned a lot. It is a good initiative because it helps us to talk to our children.”
“This is an excellent program,” said another parent from Ngoyé Mbadatt. “I would like the animator to continue her work in the village. If she is not available anymore, she should tell us so that we can find a replacement and the program can continue.
This project is made possible through generous support from the Canadian government's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. Please give thanks to God for this support and pray for the following:
- Ten adolescent health groups successfully organized community events that were attended by parents, community leaders, and others.
- CECS plans to expand this program to other communities after the summer.
- Parents’ misunderstanding of their children’s situation and the program.
- CECS now has two new fieldworkers who have been trained by World Renew (their predecessors found new jobs). This month they will start travelling to communities alone.
World Renew Sengal