Nahomie Empowers Other Girls

Author Potrait_Yamileh Théodore, Sponsorship Operations Coordinator
Edited by Yamileh Théodore

Sponsorship Operations Coordinator

Save the Children in Haiti

July 31, 2017

Hello, I am Nahomie and I am fourteen years old. I live with my parents and my three siblings in a community named Villard in Dessalines, Haiti. As the eldest, I usually help my siblings with their homework and my mother with the household chores such as washing clothes and dishes. My favorite subject is Math. Also, I enjoy playing hide and seek, hopscotch and jump rope with my friends and schoolmates.

As a typical teenager, I have a group of friends and we do everything together. For example, we like to wear the same kinds of clothes, and when one friend had her first boyfriend, we all wanted boyfriends.  Following the group, I had my first boyfriend last year.

Thanks to sponsorship, Nahomie has learned how to keep herself safe as she grows into a woman.
Thanks to sponsorship, Nahomie has learned how to keep herself safe as she grows into a woman.

In my community in Haiti, parents aren’t comfortable talking with us about sex – it is a taboo subject to discuss with people my age, regardless of if we are boys or girls. I had a lot of questions about having a boyfriend, and I didn’t know where to go.

Thanks to Save the Children’s program set-up for teens like me, I was able to seek out a friendly environment to ask questions about sex, my changing body and becoming an adult. Through sponsorship’s adolescent development programs, our teachers, school principals, school councils, or Parent Teacher Associations, and community partners receive training on Sexual Education and child-friendly ways for adults to talk about sexual and reproductive health issues with students.

As a result of these programs, a health-care worker came to my school to talk about the services that were available at the health center in our community. After hearing them speak, I went to the health center to see how I could get involved and learn more. I started participating in a student club, that both helps spread health messages to people my age but also helps build my own leadership skills and self-confidence. I was able to not only find answers to the questions I wanted to ask, but was able to discuss these questions with both adults and peers in a place I felt safe.

Today, I feel comfortable speaking about my experiences as a growing girl in my community, and using my voice to create awareness among the others about how sexual intercourse at such young age can be harmful for our lives and our futures. Waiting until a more mature age can help us avoid a lot of mistakes, such as an early pregnancy, that would affect us for the rest of our lives.

Nahomie washing the dishes outside of her home.
Nahomie washing the dishes outside of her home.

Whenever I want, I can seek more information about my sexual and reproductive health at the health center, where now I am always welcomed by staff who can offer even more information. I go there for myself, but also to create awareness and prevent adolescents like me from feeling influenced by pressures from their friends, and instead to make the best decision for their own well-being.

I am proud and thankful to Save the Children, this is a very good program! After meeting with the healthcare workers, I am now inspired to grow up to be like them. I work even harder at school so I can finish my studies in order to become a nurse. I will continue with the work they started in my community and help other adolescents who are in need. This is the dream I am now cherishing.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

The Challenges of Teenage Girls in Nacala-a-Velha

author-portrait_osvaldo-simao-provincial-meal-coordinator
Osvaldo Simão

Provincial MEAL Coordinator

Save the Children in Mozambique

December 9, 2016

In Nacala-a-Velha, Mozambique, Sponsorship’s Adolescent Development program benefits 12,000 teenagers, aiming to help them develop practical knowledge about how to be prepared for adult life. Unfortunately, traditional practices in the communities where we work increase the likelihood of unplanned pregnancies in adolescents, which makes it hard, especially for girls, to continue their education. Girls in this part of the world, starting as young as 11 years old, are taught that to be productive members of their community their primary obligation is to have children and to care for their husband and their home.

In order to mitigate these challenges, Sponsorship programs lead groups of adolescents and community members in activities that spread awareness on sexual and reproductive health skills, such as by discussing topics like contraception, family planning and the dangers of early pregnancy for girls. The goal of this programming is to reduce the high rate of unwanted pregnancies in these areas and to prevent the transmission of sexual diseases in adolescents. Awareness campaigns, radio broadcasted messages and theatre groups are among the strategies used. The radio broadcasts for example, spread awareness on how adolescent girls who become pregnant are forced out of school and cannot continue their education, which in turns hurts the development of the community as a whole. Teenage listeners are able to call in and discuss with adolescent peers participating in the radio programs topics they may be uncomfortable discussing face-to-face or with adults, like those regarding sexual and reproductive health.

Adolescents sharing their messages on health over the community public radio.
Adolescents sharing their messages on health over the community public radio.

Adult community members, such as female teachers or doctors, also hold sessions to explain the benefits of withholding sexual activities until an older age to teenage female students, and act as role models – showing the girls it is possible to fulfill their dreams and ambitions.

The community of Namalala, one located in Nacala-a-Velha, has a particularly high rate of early pregnancy. Here, Sponsorship is working hard to train teachers, school staff and healthcare providers on how to implement friendly adolescent services. Since starting our programs here, we have seen the community members join these efforts in a massive way, helping to organize weekly activities for adolescent students that encourage them to express themselves, for example through theatre or poetry readings. We’ve since seen early pregnancy rates go down, and likewise students’ dropout rates have significantly decreased.

Osvaldo poses with adolescents who benefit from our programs.
Osvaldo poses with adolescents who benefit from our programs.

“Many of my friends had dropped out of school, but now we are informed that we should only marry when we [are] the proper age and after we finish our studies.” shares Ancha, an adolescent belonging to our Sponsorship programs in Namalala.

Thanks to our sponsors, we are hopeful these trends will continue in Namalala, the wider area of Nacala-a-Velha and perhaps one day spreading throughout our country of Mozambique. We thank you for your partnership!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.