AGYW: Adolescent Girls and Young Women
Learn more about the HerVoice: Aloud|Allowed Project here
Of all the 20 AGYW who were trained,13 actively participated in the project’s implementation through the district and regional working sessions as well as the ones done with other NGOs and CBOs involved in HIV, which we included. On Sunday, 27th February 2022, we had a physical closeout meeting with 7 AGYW who actively participated in the project, BodyTalk’s project lead, project officer and one of its volunteers. We had a recapitulation of all activities carried out to monitor and evaluate the outcomes we had at the end of the project and share experiences by the AGYW who participated.
Experiences shared by AGYW
PARTICIPANT 1: AMBOH Vennessa
« From the beginning of the training on the 5th to the 8th of November, I got to learn about so many advocacy tools. Being a communication student, I got to blend my classroom knowledge, especially in the areas of communication. I got to learn how to speak for people, to the various stakeholders, for a just cause.
When we moved to the field to implement what we learnt from the training, it sounded challenging from the beginning but we made up for the difficulties and blended everything in the process».
At the working visit with the DMO of Buea;
- We were welcomed by the other staff of the district
- Unfortunately, we met the DMO when he was in a haste to attend some other meetings. Thus, it made it difficult for us to properly dialogue with him.
- However, he made us understand that the DMO doesn’t really have adequate funds to run programs for AGYW.
The major challenge faced is that the DMO was not welcoming
PARTICIPANT 2: WABET Ida
- Positive things acquired during the project
« It taught me how to be able to speak in public, how to approach the head of a district in order to talk for our project, how to do advocacy. The way you need to dress when going to an office to talk on a project, and how to prevent/protect myself from HIV ».
« My first visit at the district was not very good because the head of the district was not welcoming. The district complained of financial issues and lack of human resources to hold activities.
Some stakeholders should be able to inform others about projects because it is not everyone that knows about the (her voice) project.
PARTICIPANT 3: NJI Bertilla
This AGYW participated in the working session with the KIDDSS Project and the District coordination meeting of the Buea health district. The positive points, downsides, and suggestions she outlined from her experience in these working sessions in her own words are as follows:
Positive aspects identified
- AGYW Training
« I gained knowledge on sexual reproductive health and became more aware of my body. I became more confident, being able to speak in public »
- They were welcoming
- They were eager to answer our questions
- They were willing to partner with us where they could
3. District coordination meeting
- They follow-up projects carried out in the districts through report
- KIDSS Program
- Limited access due to confidentiality
- The fact that they can’t talk about contraceptives
2. District coordination meeting
- Reports are not timely
- Reports have a lot of discrepancies
- No report on SRH
- Follow-up so that reports are brought on time
- Reports on SRH should be included
PARTICIPANT 5: BESONG Christelle
This AGYW took part in the working session at the Tiko district, and the advantages she had of participating in the HER VOICE Aloud/Allowed project, challenges she faced, and her proposed recommendations are as follows:
« My voice was heard as I was opportune to ask questions, get ideas, and gain experience. The DMO of Tiko was welcoming and ready for partnership. My advocacy skill was built, my self-esteem was boosted during this project because I felt like I was part of and not kept aside.»
Language barrier: The DMO was very fluent in French but decided to communicate in English which was a challenge because she does not speak French fluently and felt if she did, they could better understand each other.
PARTICIPANT 6: NYAMBO Muriel
This AGYW took part in the National Advocacy meeting with other grantees and stakeholders, in the virtual meeting with the Vice President of the CCM and in the working session with the DMO of the Buea district. Her feedback on her experience during this project, the challenges she faced and her suggested recommendations in her own words were:
« The training was very educative as I had to carry out advocacy which to me was difficult but now, I believe I have the ability to identify potential issues around me to advocate on. During the project, the language used was down to earth as speakers made use of different strategies to ensure we understand pertinent concepts: self-confidence and advocacy especially. The training also gave me the opportunity to meet stakeholders working on sexual reproductive health (SRH) (HIV especially) spaces which I thought I would not have access to or meet such people ».
The visit to the DMO of Buea health District was not easy as the DMO was not too receptive and he complained about not having financial or human resources available for activities.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE DISTRICT HEALTH SERVICE
Though they are at the operationalization stage and work with all youths, it is important that they distinguish those activities in terms of specificity to the AGYW. This will enable them to track how far it reaches them.
PARTICIPANT 7: Rose Agborem
This AGYW was not able to participate in activities after the three days of training because of school, health, and family constraints. She took part in the 6-week online follow-up training and had her own points of view from what she observed in her community and working with other AGYW during the project. The advantages of her being part of this project, the challenges she has identified, and her own mitigating suggestions in her own words are as follows.
« Helping other girls get information on SRHR, building on self-confidence, being courageous enough to speak to other girls about SRHR. Can speak and open up on anything before a health personnel ».
- Most girls feel shy to open up.
- She was unable to participate in district meetings like the other AGYW because she lives away from Buea.
- It is difficult to get a group of other girls that want to work with BodyTalk.
- There is no confidentiality at the level of the district with respect to infected persons. « I have been in a situation where the personnel spoke out loud to various colleagues ».
- Campaigns in the community to sensitize AGYW on contraceptives needs to be done to reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies.
- AGYW should have a space in terms of meeting when making decisions concerning them.
PARTICIPANT 8: Zechia Fojuanang
This participant actively took part in the working session with the HIV program coordinators and the regional technical group coordinator.
« I learned so many things I had no idea about during the three days training program organized by BodyTalk. Some of these things include;
- Learned about the guidelines on the treatment of HIV
- Got to interact with other trainees and gained much on their interest and means of involving youths/adolescents on HIV planning and implementation.
- Acquired knowledge on how to use contraceptives and how to manage my sexual reproductive health.
- Got to know a lot about the infection rate of HIV among adolescents.
At the CBC (HIV Free program office),, the staff were very receptive and willing to work with BodyTalk on issues concerning sexual reproductive health and HIV. They also explained in detail how the HIV Free program is being run and how they deal with adolescents, which was quite satisfactory and encouraging ».
Attending meetings after the training was a little challenging because she had to cope with school.
PARTICIPANT 8: Ndingwan Nicoline
She is a permanent volunteer under BodyTalk, who was one of the facilitators and at the same time trainee during the HER voice Aloud/Allowed project, who also participated in a working session with the focal point for Reproductive Health of the Regional Delegation of Public Health of the southwest region. Her comments on her overall experience during this project in her own words are as follows:
- The willingness of the girls to learn and work
- The receptiveness of stakeholders gave us more courage to air out our worries and get to know the works they have been able to do for the past years, and the challenges and limitations they faced.
« So far, the only limitation I noticed was the fact that most of the girls are attending school, hence making it difficult for them to make appointments with the stakeholders ».
The physical meeting with the girls ended well, and we got to track how far we have gone how we were able to attain most of our objectives. However, due to the project deadline we could not continue with other activities that will show more impact to what we did throughout the project period. Finally, we shared our experiences, identified loopholes in our implementation, and formulated recommendations.