Empowering tomorrow: A four-day journey into sexual reproductive health

By Jennifer Bessy & Geoffrey Gikungu

Sexual reproductive health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, and universities play a pivotal role in educating and empowering students on this essential subject. USIU-Africa recently hosted a transformative four-day event dedicated to fostering awareness, understanding, and open dialogue around sexual reproductive health powered by the VCT week committee members and the counseling center team. The event aimed at equipping students with knowledge, resources, and a supportive community to navigate this crucial aspect of their lives. The hashtag for the four-day event was #StoptheScareBeAware.

The program ran through from the November 20-23, and was graced by our esteemed partners and sponsors Marie Stopes who were in charge of educating our students on contraceptive and STIs counseling; Fahari ya Jamii, a USAID project in charge of paying VCT counselors; Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) were in charge of breast and cervical cancer screening services; OraQuick team were in charge of testing HIV with the oral self-test kit and giving free oral self-test kits to members of the USIU-Africa community, Kiss Condoms gave free condoms and hats; AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF) supported the team with HIV testing tents and consumables; IPAS offered sexual and reproductive health education whose support played a pivotal role in the success of the events of the week albeit the unpredictable weather.

The VCT week’s committee members highlighted the importance of comprehensive sexual education and encouraged fellow students to actively participate on each day. Some of the areas covered were contraception methods, and the importance of regular health check-ups. These sessions were designed to dispel myths, provide accurate information, and encourage a culture of open communication through games like pop the balloon, three stick games, hula hoops and the much-participated condom games.
The event focused on advocacy and raising awareness about sexual reproductive health. Various student-led initiatives, clubs, and organizations set up information tents, distributed pamphlets, and organized engaging activities. These efforts aimed to create a more inclusive environment and break down stigmas surrounding sexual health. Interactive sessions on consent and communication skills fostered an environment that prioritized respect, understanding, and empathy within relationships.

The event concluded with a movie night which was attended by around 90 people. More than 1000 members of USIU-Africa community got tested for HIV and 100 screened for breast and cervical cancer. We had students generating hashtags such as #KnowyourHIVstatustoday, #Condomizedon’tcompromise amongst others. At the end of the program, we interviewed some organizers and this is what they had to say: “The games were very educative and a crowd puller at the same time, students enjoyed learning about stigmas, facts and myths surrounding sexual health while having fun. The event was pretty awesome,” said Maria Aguina, current VCT committee chair.

The four-day event successfully created a platform for open dialogue, education, and community building around sexual reproductive health. By addressing various aspects of this vital topic, the students were empowered with the knowledge and resources needed to make informed decisions, foster healthy relationships, and contribute to a campus culture that values and prioritizes sexual well-being. The hope is that the momentum generated during this event will continue to inspire positive change and advocacy for sexual reproductive health within the university community and beyond.

The resilience displayed by the university community in the face of adverse weather conditions was truly commendable. The commitment to learning, sharing, and participating in activities designed to improve our collective health demonstrated the keen sense of community that defines USIU-Africa.

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