Every one of us has a life story to tell. Experiences we have encountered have major influences on our future and our way of looking at different issues pertaining life. If you are an educator, informant or a group leader it helps if you understand and analyze your past experiences and how they have influenced you. Example of experience can be harassment, insecurity, lack of freedom, lack of exposure, lack of awareness and knowledge on different issues, effects of poor customs.
While others have encountered good experience to others the story is vice versa, as we were implementing the Youth Peer Health Education Programme around Makete district in Njombe Tanzania mainland, I experienced different things which make the need of sustainable Peer Health Education to the people around there. It’s like they have been forgotten. Most of the people are vulnerable especially youth and the children. This is because of different issues like; low level of awareness about health issues, poor customs, power gap between man and women, lack of confidence, lack of knowledge on health issues.
Low level of awareness and lack of knowledge on health issues
“During the trainings I experienced that most of the YPHE’s and their mentors have low level of awareness on issues concerning about health. As some of the module of the trainings provided were concerned about different health issues like HIV and AIDS, reproductive health and puberty, nutrition for those who are HIV infected, sexual transmitted infections (MAYANGO). Their awareness about those issues is very low something that makes them to be in a danger zone to health problems. As the experience also shows that Makete district is one of the areas which is highly affected with HIV infections in Tanzania. There are also a lot of misconceptions about health issues. For example “a girl cannot get pregnant if she is young”. One mentor said it difficult to get blood test results if the sample blood will be drawn from one hand as the virus will be around the other hand/side so during blood testing blood should be taken from both hands. This also proves that the mentor has knowledge about HIV blood testing”.
‘’The elders said ‘’ too much is harmful’’ I was shocked when I saw two pupils girls called by their teacher and when they got there they kneeled down and listen to what their teacher called them for, before I thought its part of punishment but I was much shocked when I asked the teacher what did they do until they kneel down? The teacher replied that it’s their school culture but to me it was like harassment to pupils. Children have no say over their elders, what they suppose to do is to agree from everything they are being told. If someone helps you, you need to return the favor. This kind of custom is not bad but it is being used badly as many man and boys when they helped the woman and girls they need to have sex with them in return as a favor for being helped. There is no habits for boys and girls to play together something which makes us to have hard time to make them interact and play together different games as we used to play with them football and other games’’.
Power gap and lack of confidence
“There is big power gap between man and women. In Makete district there is large gap between man and women in many aspect, for stance in economic power major means of production are being owned by man, the interested thing is that in most primary school girls are performing well in studies than boys. As 70% of those appeared in top ten are girls in most of the examination results. Children have no power to voice out their opinions and views as they are not participating in decision making in all levels starting from family level”. Also there is big gap between those who have and those who have not. This makes classes between the residences of Makete. Apart from the area being blessed with a lot of opportunities like fertility of the soil, good climatic condition but still people are migrating to other areas outside Makete. And most of those who are migrating are those who haves they leave Makete and start new life elsewhere instead of using what they have to build Makete. It is the only area where there is depopulation”.
Lack of confidence among students
“Most of the YPHE’s we trained, before the training they were lacking confidence. Perhaps this is caused by different issues like teaching techniques used by their teachers which is non participatory. The teaching style which is common by many teachers is not of two way traffic. It is spoon feeding kind of teaching. This makes many pupils to lack confidence to speak in front of the people, most of them they were feeling shy. But after the training they changed as the HHU trainer employed participatory teaching approach.
Kelvin Mwinuka – YPHE Trainer