What moved me
In my secondary school days, I had a friend who got pregnant and dropped out of school. This was a common occurrence with my peers. My friend suffered so much from Gender-based violence from her supposed boyfriend and family members who neglected her. This got me thinking about why it was happening that way. In another instance, a friend got pregnant two years in succession then I wondered if she knew anything about contraception. Perhaps, I was privileged to know all this thanks to my mum, who was always there for me and open enough to talk to; hence I was prompted to start blaming the other parents. Despite all that was happening, I was so disciplined that I did not stray, nor was I influenced. Having a mum who is a nurse gave me access to lots of information which helped me read well ahead of my peers and gather them for educational purposes each time there was an opportunity which earned me the title “Teacher”.
HOW I BECAME A PEER EDUCATOR
My passion initially was just to educate my peers; in doing that, I advocated without realizing it. This allowed me to be trained as a sexual and reproductive health advocate in 2015. With my position as a youth leader in the church, I was able to educate my peers in the church from the information I got during training. I am very versed in all these sexual and reproductive health issues because I attend activities and volunteer whenever possible. I am passionate about volunteering, even if it just means handing out papers. Doing a nursing degree is a bridge to help me serve in my community with more informed decisions.
Regarding sexual and reproductive health services, I would love to say our hospitals are not youth-friendly, and most staff try to impose their beliefs on you when you seek assistance as a youth, adolescent or teenager. For example, if you are a Christian and believe in abstinence, and when a young person approaches you for contraception, your first reaction is, ‘this is a bad child, or she is not Christian enough’. This makes many youths shy away from these services and run into trouble. In one case, I experienced a teenage girl who came with an incomplete abortion; she was shamed and neglected while in the hospital. Everyone judged her, but no one really took out time to listen to her story, counsel her and even help her, which leads me to say that we need more adolescent-friendly sexual and reproductive health services in our hospitals.
As health workers, our personal beliefs should not be the basis of our careTweet
my thoughts about Sexual health services
Adolescence is a period of learning. If we approach adolescent girls with a less judgmental mind, we will be able to help them. Also, our personal beliefs should not be the basis of our conversations with them; instead, we should set out to actually listen to them. To our hospitals, I believe it will be prudent to have services for the adolescent population regarding sexual and reproductive health. This way, they will have adequate, appropriate and age-friendly education because, truth be told, the information they get from peers on the streets is horrible. And sometimes toxic.
HIv & stigma
When it comes to HIV, I think most people have information about the transmission of HIV; however, when it comes to living with HIV and living with people living with HIV, we still have a challenge and stigma sets in. There is still a lot of fear, so much so that people living with HIV hide their statuses, and when family members find out, they are stigmatized. Even though people claim to know about HIV and do their tests regularly, they still have little or no idea how to help those infected. As a young advocate, I will love to play my role to help everyone see that stigmatizing people does not make you a better person. As I educate myself, I hope to get more information to keep my friends educated with more positive information. After all, I am a “TEACHER”.
To my peers, volunteering is not about making money but making an impact in the world you live in and making it a better place. When you leave this space, what will you be remembered for? As for me, I will always be fulfilled by reaching and touching one person because one will reach another.
Habiba Jabo is a youth advocate for people living with HIV. She is 21, a sexual and reproductive health advocate, and a final-year nursing student. She started her advocacy and volunteerism at 15 and is passionate about volunteering.
ABOUT THE YOUNGVOICES: ALOUD N’ ALLOWED CAMPAIGN
BodyTalk_Let’s TalkBody is one of four creators across Africa that joined The Access Challenge through the One By One 2030 to fight HIV stigma and promote SRHR knowledge in digital spaces in a fun and creative way starting 20th June 2022.
We aim to reduce the stigma around HIV and reproductive health by amplifying the voices of young Africans through digital spaces. Habiba’s voice is the fourth in a series of five stories of young people we shall publish to show how stigma manifests.
Want to join the campaign? Download the digital toolkit to get started and find us on social media.
Read other articles in the series: