Counselling Centre hosts annual VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) Week

By Sarah L. Mwaitete

Last week, the Counselling Centre assisted by a committee of students under the leadership of Lydia Winda hosted the first Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) Week event since the onset of COVID-19. The event, which was attended by over 90 people, was hosted to create awareness about HIV and AIDS, sexual and reproductive health issues, advocate for behavior change and modification, culminating in a conversation on the theme “Power, Sex and Safety”. Borrowing from the fact that humans are inherently social and sexual creatures, and primarily live on the expression of the same, the ongoing pandemic has undoubtedly shifted how we express ourselves in our relationships. The panelists sought to explore present challenges and how to avert them, dissect emerging issues and highlight teachable moments amidst this frenzy.

In her introduction, Mrs. Marion Mutwiri, a Marriage and Family Therapist and Lecturer at USIU-Africa gave a presentation on the restructuring models of relationships in the post-pandemic era and painted a reality of how we can actively work towards better, balanced, healthy and sustainable relationships.

She explored the new dynamics in relationships where in this era of the digital space there seems to be a confusion between love and sex. She clearly explained power plays in the relationships, particularly power imbalances in relationships that create toxic spaces (abuse, be it financial, emotional, sexual and even the increasing homicides), the need for boundaries, an understanding of self and the need for shared power and control in today’s relationships. She recommended the use of such values as respect, trust, sense of fairness, accountability, shared responsibility and negotiation in order to create better structures in mutual relationships and avoid the chaos currently being witnessed.

Ms. Sarah Mwaitete, a student representative, shared a viewpoint of the future of relationships from a youth’s perspective. She highlighted the challenges and responsibilities for young people in relationships, highlighting, peer pressure, lack of self-awareness, individuality, the struggles with changes in sexual orientation. Her focal response to this prompt was one of hope; of a generation rising beyond the patriarchy, with a tolerance for diversity, standing by their values and most importantly, one that has a deep awareness of self, an attuning to their autonomy and the power that lies in them to take calculated risks and make informed decisions about their sexual lives.

Ms. Florence Kaara, a sexual health expert, addressed some of the pressing issues young people experienced as a result of their sexual and reproductive health. In her discussion, she was able to verify the obsolescence of sexual enhancers for optimum functionality, shed light on the use and risks of contraceptives and birth control, and emphasized the need for developing sexual health seeking behaviors.

The session was closed by one of USIU-Africa’s Senior Counselors, Mr. Patrick Obel, who wrapped it up by reiterating the need for grounding in self-control and regulation, will power and exercising an assertiveness to personal values in the face of sex-related situations. This was echoed by the Principal Counselor, Lucy Kung’u, who emphasized the need for responsible navigation through the academic journey with a focus on managing distractors in their lives as a result of their sexual and reproductive health issues.

The Counselling Department encourages each of you to take periodic tests for Sexually Transmitted Infection (STIs) or Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), especially for those who are sexually active. While abstinence is the safest way through, we are reminded: “If you can’t abstain, contain”.

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