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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Kicking for Change Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by VICTOR RASUGU, Kenya Oct 25, 2007
Health   Short Stories
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The crowd went into frenzy when Girls soccer football club from Kibera won their first match. The home ground advantage seemed to give the team an extra player in the field. The occasion was a 7 aside girls soccer tournament cum community extravaganza organized by NAYA Kenya with support from Planned Parenthood Federation of America International, Africa Regional Office as part of series of campaigns in advocating for adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The adrenaline was rising fast by half time with all the girls teams dressed in their Sunday best despite being a Saturday. Short poems, raps, drama skits and speeches from the guests were given during the breaks. NAYA Kenya members were on the sidelines engaging the youth in creative reproductive health questions, this is a methodology that uses sports and entertainment to promote the reproductive health and rights and a call for support from the community and other stake holders towards the implementation of Adolescent Reproductive Health and Development policy. It was an opportunity to reach this vastly and hard to reach constituents.

Why did NAYA Kenya target Kibera for advocacy intervention?
Currently there are four classes of youth i.e. those who do not anticipate having sex in the next year {delayers}, those who anticipate having sex {anticipators}, those who have had sex with one partner {singles}, and those who have had two or more sexual partners {multiples}. Research has shown that the youth in Kibera more so girls begin their first sexual debut by 12 years. A regular nine-year-old girl living in the city might be in standard four or five. Upcountry, she would be in school, perhaps in either a lower class or looking after cattle, fetching water and doing other household chores depending on her cultural expectations.
In Kibera one of the Africa’s largest slums, a nine year old girl is likely to be expecting her first child. In other areas especially city estates, girls and boys aged nine know that at their age sex is ‘bad;’ In the slums, sex is something normal that everyone regardless of age can engage in. Girls in Kibera according to a health worker never experience their first periods. “In fact, the ones who conceive at the age of 13 are very lucky to get their periods. Here girls get pregnant without seeing their periods.”

According to Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS 2003) 36% of Kenya‘s population consist of people under the age of 10-24. 5 out of 10 adolescents begin child bearing before the age of 20 while almost half of adolescent (46%) without education begin child bearing as compared with only 10% of those with secondary education. 8 out of 10 boys and 7 out 10 girls have had sex before the age of 20. According to the article carried in The Standard news paper, an interviewee had this to say “even those who are learned end up coming to the slums to drink changaa and kumikumi, so why should you bother yourself with education.”

The main theme for the day was “Lets Samba Not Bamba-Empower the youth” (lets play not catch) a message calling on the youth and the community to play an active role in development and at the same time take charge of their life.

NAYA Kenya launched the intervention to call for action from the youth, policy makers, opinion leaders and like-minded individuals towards the implementation of ARH&D policy document. The intervention is designed to utilize sports and entertainment methodologies in advocacy.

The skills portrayed by Girls Soccer and Young Peles made Mr. Samwel Ogola (NCAPD representative) to prophesy this great and powerful words, “I am proud of what you are doing, all the people who are involved and especially the youth who have made this possible (NAYA Kenya)… I hope that in the future we will see some of the girls playing in the Harambee Stars Women National team, indeed this is the first right step towards advocacy.”

During the breaks, Lets Samba Not Bamba-empower the youth was amplified. Individuals from the crowd engaged in a dancing competition and the winners carried home a NAYA Kenya T-shirt. Dr Sarah Onyango from PPFA-I and other guests were enthralled by the success of the campaign. They also enjoyed entertainment courtesy of LAYOGRA, Pillars of Kibera and Hamlet youth groups.

These hopeful words from Moses Kabugi of PeaceNet-Trust summarized it all, “It is of my greatest hope, that this day will play an important role in reproductive health advocacy, specifically to the Youth and Women in this Country. Football has always been considered a man’s game, but this event has proved it wrong. It is my belief that this event shall bring more collaborative partners on board, who will help make it a bigger annual event building up to 2015.” The theme was perfect “Lets Samba Not Bamba-empower the youth”. And NAYA Kenya did exactly that.

For holistic development of young people, which includes physical, social and spiritual aspects, as society/individual/policy make affirm your commitment by creating awareness on the rights of adolescent and importance of sexuality education through sensitization at various forms, consensus building, advocacy and identification of priority needs for action and dissemination of correct and consistent information.

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Victor Rasugu is a reproductive health activist committed to entrenchment of accessible and affordable sexual reproductive health services at all levels.
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