We’re excited to share the success of our recent Own Your Destiny (OYD) peer coach training with our project partner School Club Zambia! On August 28th, 2023, at Maamba Secondary School, we embarked on a transformative journey of knowledge and empowerment aimed at equipping 20 coaches with essential knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV prevention, and demonstrating how to integrate SRHR messages with life skills through the power of football.
The primary objective? To empower these coaches to address critical issues such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), family planning, voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), safeguarding, sexual consent, and life skills. This training was more than just an educational journey; it sought to inspire girls who had previously dropped out of school to return.
Our engaging and interactive sessions were carefully designed to assess the coaches’ existing knowledge. Topics ranging from STIs to misconceptions about HIV and various sexual concepts stirred the participants’ interest. It was quite surprising to discover that some participants believed that men held exclusive authority over sexual activities, leaving women with no say in the matter. Myths about HIV were also prevalent, including the mistaken belief that engaging in sexual activity with a child could cure HIV or that a snake or mosquito bite could transmit the virus. Concepts like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) were new to many coaches.
The subject of family planning emerged as a topic of lively debate due to deeply fixed cultural beliefs. Some men still clung to the belief that contraceptive use by women leads to infertility. However, as the days progressed, the coaches learned that family planning was not a major factor in infertility; rather, factors such as STIs played a significant role in this regard. We also emphasised the importance of regular health check-ups and clarified that cancer is not an STI but can be caused by the HPV virus, which is classified among STIs.
Two of our dedicated coaches, Webby and Selina from Play it Forward, led the practical sessions for two days, with the remaining days dedicated to peer coaches delivering their own sessions. This collaborative approach proved to be incredibly effective.
At the end of this transformative training:
In conclusion, the OYD peer coach training marked a significant milestone in empowering coaches with the knowledge and skills necessary to make a positive impact on their communities. With accurate information and a deeper understanding of SRHR. These coaches will now take their newfound knowledge and skills back to their respective communities, where they will implement the project alongside 250 girls from 10 schools in Maamba, ultimately leading to healthier and more informed communities.
This project is generously funded by Comic Relief and the Scottish Government and in partnership with School Club Zambia.