As WISER’s sexual and reproductive health program continues to extend its outreach on and off-campus, some members of the WISER community have had the opportunity to collaborate with organizations across East Africa thanks to our partnership with the Segal Family Foundation.
Two WISER Girls and one WISER faculty member recently attended the 3rd Annual Reach a Hand Uganda Youth Health Camp in Kampala, Uganda. The theme of the camp this year? Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights.
The camp brought together young people and their mentors from across East Africa to participate in an educational and fun series of workshops. The topics included HIV testing and counselling, intergenerational dialogues, STI screenings, and the creation of creative campaigns that target youth health and well-being.
Over 628 youth attended the event, providing the perfect atmosphere for WISER Girls to network and learn from their peers. Winnie, a form 3 student and peer counselor at WISER, was particularly impressed by the conference’s focus on issues that affect her as a young woman: “For girls, it’s important that we learn about menstruation, early pregnancy, peer influence, and also career choices, strategies, and how to be a better peer educator.”
Winnie has taken her peer counselor role to heart, and is particularly interested in improving her peer outreach skills through involvement in the sexual and reproductive health program at WISER. She feels that although the conference was focused on sexual and reproductive health, she was able to learn invaluable lessons that will improve her work as a peer counselor on WISER’s campus.
“To be a peer educator, you must be self-confident, courageous, flexible, and you need to respect and understand others. The conference helped me grow with that. I learned how to understand my own life, but more importantly, I learned how to understand others’ lives, my neighbor’s life.”
Teacher Nipher Okemwa, who represented WISER faculty at this conference, found inspiration in the camp, and hopes to bring a similar collaborative camp to WISER in the near future.
“I think now, as a school, if we have our own camp, we can foster collaboration. We can move faster, and the people around this school will say ‘What is going on at WISER?’ and they will have the information they need to receive about their health.”
Following the conference, Teacher Nipher is hoping to send both Winnie and her fellow conference-attendee Jackline, to the KaKenya Youth Camp for Peer Training. This upcoming program develops the counselling skills of young peer counselors.
WISER is moving forward rapidly with sexual and reproductive health education both on campus and off. Our peer counselors are now working in the community with local church groups, and on campus we continue the strong and personal support structure proven to be most effective for WISER Girls.