“I’m responsible for my life, I say no to young people pregnancy.”
These are the words of Mutesi, a 21 year old woman from Kigali in Rwanda. Mutesi is one of many young women who participates in the sexual and reproductive health programs run by our community partner, Club Rafiki. Through Club Rafiki she has access to contraception and to information about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV. If the need arises, she can seek counselling and testing through though Club Rafiki’s ‘Family Friendly Centre’.
With her strong sense of self and the support of Club Rafiki, Mutesi is determined to beat the national statistics in Rwanda. The World Health Organisation estimates that 88% of adolescent girls who are sexually active but unmarried in Rwanda (aged 15 – 19 years) do not use any contraception. Globally, 830 women die from pregnancy – or childbirth-related complications – every day, 99% of whom are in developing countries.
These trends equally impact our community partners in Uganda and India, who recognise that access to basic health information, counselling and services, including doctors and medicines, is crucial if women are to have control over their lives and their sexual and reproductive health.
In the last 12 months with your support, and at the request of our community partners, we have increased the focus on health in a number of our programs. And we are seeing impressive results from our partners who run incredible – and desperately needed – grassroots health programs.
“I am a girl with vision. I value my education. I say no to teenage pregnancy”
As we approach Human Rights Day on 10th December, we ask you to please donate and help us raise $19,600 to ensure women and girls can access these essential health programs in 2018.
Our partners are community-led, transparent and accountable to their communities. They understand the particular vulnerability of women and girls – and the importance of access to health information and services.
Your donation will mean young people in Kigali will have access to the Family Friendly Centre at Club Rafiki. It will mean that children and young people impacted by HIV in Budaka, Uganda, will have access to sexual health information and peer-to-peer counselling, paving the way for a healthier and more inclusive life. And it will mean that women in the Madurai slums in India will have access to nurses, doctors and health clinics.
Your contribution, however big or small, is vital:
Please see below for more detail on the grassroots health programs run by our community programs in Rwanda, Uganda and India.
Thank you for your support.
In Rwanda, your donation will mean that Club Rafiki’s health program in Kigali and rural villages remains strong and benefits young women like Mutesi.
This year, we extended our commitment to Club Rafiki to put their sexual health program front and centre over the next five years. We now support the Family Friendly Centre – a free sexual and reproductive health clinic providing education, counselling and laboratory testing for pregnancy and STDs. Demand for the Centre is high with over 5000 young people in 2015/16 accessing the Centre’s sexual health counselling and testing across a 12-month period.
This work is acutely needed. Kigali has the highest rate of HIV in Rwanda and a report produced by the Rwandan government in 2016 revealed that almost one in 10 girls between 11-19 years has fallen pregnant. A staggering 75% of these pregnancies were a result of sexual violence and only 13% of those young women had sufficient sexual health knowledge. Of the nearly 1000 women that presented to Club Rafiki for pregnancy testing in 2016, 39% were pregnant. Sexual violence, limited knowledge of safe sex and teen pregnancy have a devastating effect on girls – they drop out of school, it exacerbates poverty and contributes to poor maternal and child health outcomes.
With your support, thousands of young people will be able to access free sexual and reproductive health information, counselling and laboratory testing through the Family Friendly Centre in 2018.
For young people, the Centre’s support can be life-changing. In the words of Alphonse, one of the mothers connected to Club Rafiki: “I have two girls in Club Rafiki, really I appreciate this program which helped us in education especially about sexual and reproductive health as you know in our culture it’s not our habit to talk about the secret body like sexual and reproductive health.”
Our six grassroots partners in the Budaka region of Eastern Uganda work directly to improve the education and health outcomes of children and young people impacted by HIV, focusing on those orphaned and living in child-headed households. As their local reputation grows, our partners face increasing demand that they are struggling to meet.
As well as education programs to keep vulnerable children and young people in school and training, our partners offer ‘wrap around’ programs to support their health and wellbeing.
They do everything from providing reusable sanitary pads to girls so they can manage menstruation safely and with dignity and can stay in school during their cycle, to holding large public events on HIV prevention and education. In 2018, our partners will hold two ‘voluntary HIV counselling and training’ public events. They will bring in a medical team from the nearby regional centre of M’Bale to provide sexual health information and testing and offer medical referrals and counselling where necessary. Together these events expect to reach up to 600 people.
Beyond health information and counselling about HIV, our partners work to reduce the stigma that continues to be associated with HIV – and the mental health burden that this brings. This is particularly tough for children. Our partners know that the children that they work with are targets for discrimination, both because of their poverty and their association with HIV. In 2018, with your support, our partners want to continue their long-standing counselling program and train 150 young people (aged 17 – 24 years) as peer-to-peer counsellors to raise awareness about HIV transmission and living with HIV. The aim is to destigmatise HIV in the community – an important step to creating a healthy and inclusive life for children and carers.
Guna Vincent is the Co-Director and Founder of our partner Mahalir Sakthi, which works in the Madurai slums in India. Guna leads Mahalir Sakthi’s proven and empowering programs. Her latest report to indigo foundation highlights that:
“Sanitary conditions affect women and children acutely. Limited and poorly maintained toilet facilities are in the slums. They are also particularly vulnerable to STDs … and other infections as a consequence of unsanitary conditions during menstruation and surrounding childbirth.”
In this context, we have been excited to back Mahalir Sakthi’s health program, which goes beyond sexual and reproductive health to include basic health care.
With your support, Mahalir Sakthi will be able to offer four health workshops in 2018 in different locations across the Madurai slums, each expected to attract 250 poor and disadvantaged women and young people. These will cover hygiene, sanitation, diet, maternal health, sexual and reproductive health and HIV awareness.
Mahalir Sakthi will also run four full-day health clinics, bringing in 15 – 20 medical experts including doctors, nurses and pharmacists for over 80 women at each clinic – women who would otherwise miss out. They will offer a general health check, including breast cancer checks and vaccinations for children.