This October, AAYMCA travelled to different YMCA branches in Western and Central Kenya to upscale their SexManenoz concept. Our sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is often influenced by personal and social factors such as lack of knowledge of human rights, gender equality, perception of sexuality, interpersonal relationships, and communication and decision-making skills. Additionally, social and cultural norms also play a role in our SRH. It is therefore important to show sensitivity when addressing SRH. AAYMCA recognizes the fact that it is often difficult to discuss topics related to reproduction and sexuality, it is therefore important to break the silence to improve our own and other people’s health and well-being. AAYMCA’s SexManenoz loosely translated “sex issues” is a youth-friendly, interactive safe space for young people to learn and discuss Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The purpose of SexManenoz is for young people to feel safe when discussing sensitive topics; when people feel comfortable and safe they speak more freely, ask questions and answers more honest. By safeguarding a safe space for young people, the SexManenoz sessions ensure respect, confidentiality and privacy. AAYMCA in partnership with Family Health Options Kenya travelled to the YMCA branches in Kisumu, Chavakali, Thika and Nyeri in Kenya showcasing the SexManenoz.
YWCA and YMCA Kisumu
On October 4th, YMCA and YWCA joined hands and had a SexManenoz session at the YWCA Kisumu branch. The SRHR advisers at YWCA Kisumu led the participants through the topics of sex, sexual transmitted infections/diseases and sexuality. As well as demonstrated how to use the male and female condoms. In the addition, the participants joined for two activities on STI’s, one that deals with misconceptions and myths around STI (that you can see on the person that they have a STI), and the other activity was to illustrate how quickly a STI can spread. The discussions and questions show that is it a great need to continue these conversations with young people as there exist a lack of knowledge especially on different STIs; symptoms, treatment. Further it is important to dispel different myths about STI. if a person loses weight, if they walk with their legs a bit spread, are pale, have a lot of water in their body was some of the myths mentioned that indicates that a person has an STI.
On 5th of November, at YMCA Chavkali, AAYMCA in partnership with YWCA and FHOK had a session on sex, sexuality, and STI’s. Furthermore, introduced an activity called the Value Judgement Game, where the facilitator says different statement regarding gender for the participants to discuss whether they agree, disagree, are not sure or don’t know. This game is a youth-friendly activity which aims to start discussions and create positive behavior change regarding gender: eg. “A real man must produce a male child” sparked a lot of discussion where some men claimed this to be true, while the majority of the participants disagreed. Most of the young people argues that a real man is defined by characteristics such as being kind, respectful and take care of his family and friends, not by having a male child. The game also enhances the participants’ communication skills, as the activity is designed for the participants to lead the discussion and also persuade the other participants who disagree with statements, such as the above mentioned example. In Chavakali, FHOK offered youth-friendly services such as free contraceptives, family planning counselling and HIV testing in a space that protected the participants’ privacy.
On the 18th of October, AAYMCA together with YMCA Thika had a SexManenoz session on mental health, promoting safe space for young people to learn and discuss mental health issues. AAYMCA supports the #IAMWHOLE campaign that aims to encourage young people to challenge harmful language and negative stigma surrounding mental health and encourage other to speak out and seek help. The SexManenoz session focused on awareness-raising on different types on mental health issues to reduce negative stereotypes and stigma. Further, the participants were introduced to the Human Library activity. In the Human Library the books are people who share their various experiences with an intention to encourage positive behavior and dispel stigma around different SRHR issues amongst young people. The Human library in Thika had 3 books, on depression, anxiety and self-esteem, and the participants were divided amongst these books. In this activity the participants can ask “the book” questions, as well as share their own experiences on these topics.
The Human library activity was introduced two years ago, and has been implemented at several YMCAs in Kenya. The activity promotes a safe space, where people sharing their own stories on sensitive issues in smaller groups, make it easier for those listening to open up and ask questions and/ or share their own stories and experience on the topic of the books. Moreover, during the sessions, FHOK offered free HIV testing, cervical cancer screening and family planning counselling for the young people.
On the 19th of October, AAYCMA had a SexManenoz session at the YMCA Nyeri. FHOK joined for the event, and had a health talk on sexual transmitted infections and disease, and family planning. FHOK did also offer free HIV testing, family planning counselling. The health talk showed how the young people might feel at bit uncomfortable asking questions regarding their sexual and reproductive health, as a measurement they could whisper their questions to the FHOK service providers and they answered the different questions at the end of the sessions, maintaining the youth’s anonymity. The session also involved a Value Judgement game, where for instance the statement “Women only wear miniskirt to attract a man”, sparked a lot of discussions. Some people supported the statement, as the majority disagreed arguing that women are entitled to decide over their own body, and what they will wear without being subject of harassment.