Peer Educators: Wave of Change

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Peer educators from Kailali district Nepal. Photo by: Shreejana

I was freaked out as the flight attendance announced “the temperature in Kailali district is 35®C”. It’s nearly 13®C difference in temperature comparing Kathmandu. But nothing could push me back as I always want to meet my peer leaders and educators from different Village Development Committee (VDCs) of Kailali. I am proud to say I am also a peer educator. I started my volunteerism in Family Planning Association, Nepal in the field of young people’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) five years back. Also dreamt about being trainer and facilitate sessions on Life Skills and SRHR.

Peer Education approach in Nepal is very popular to promote young peoples’ SRHR, in which community members are supported to promote health-enhancing change among their peers. In Kailali district, Ipas Nepal has supported Family Planning Association of Nepal Kailali to recruit young people to serve as peer educators after orienting them on SRHR and safe abortion. The main objective of recruiting peer educators is to engage their peers in conversations about the issue of SRHR, seeking to promote health enhancing knowledge and skills. The intention is to reduce unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion in Kailali district, giving locally-relevant and meaningful suggestions, using local language and taking account of the local context, will be most likely to be able to promote health-enhancing behavior change. Another objective of mobilizing peer educators is to reduce the gap between generation and health facilities. Young people (15-24) year age group is encouraged to be peer educators and serve their community by providing accurate information on SRHR.

This time I got opportunity to interact with different peer groups of more than eight VDCs of Kailali. One of the female peer educators shared:

“I wanted to be member of peer group in my VDCs because I belong to Chaudhary community where women have limited knowledge and access to safe abortion services. We are marginalized community. My small effort being peer educator will help my community to understand importance of women’s health.” 

Likewise one of the male peer educators shared: ” In my group we rarely talk about SRHR. It is stigmatized in our community. People think you are characterless person if you talk about sex, condom, masturbation, etc with your friends and elders. But now I am confident after the peer education training to discuss about SRHR issues to my friends and even relatives.”

I am really impressed to see young people freely talking about SRHR without any hesitation. Many VDCs in Kailali is very conservative and traditional where SRHR is stigmatized. Its really amazed me that the young girls were talking about condom and how to use it properly. I am also proud of them and their effort on information other young people in their community.

Only one thing that disturbed me was there’s a gap between young people and service centers. On asking whether they visit service centers nearby their village, they replied they do so if they have any physiological problems. Then we talked about how important it is to know about the service centers nearby one’s community and what services they provide. Peer educators should have at least a basic information about services available in health service centers.

The enthusiasm among the peer leaders let me write about them in my blog. So I call Peer Educators as wave of change who relay correct and accurate information to their peers related to SRHR and safe abortion. I salute them for their work.

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