STORIES OF CHANGE

we are not just a number

In this series, we have set out to share some stories about CHOICE’s impact: the stories of young people we are able to change together with our partners.

This story is about Brenda from Kenya, and how she grew from insecure
and uninformed to a sexual and reproductive health and rights activist.

The previous
situation

Brenda grew up in a village where there was little attention for the health needs of young people and specifically not relating to sexual and reproductive health.

Not a single parent in my village would talk about it”,
she recalls. At school, the human reproductive system was mentioned only once during science.
“Before my teacher started he gave us a warning: if any  of us dared to laugh, he would stop immediately. During  this lesson, no one dared to blink. The lesson took twenty  minutes, while we had spent a week learning about the  plant reproductive system.”

In church Brenda was taught never to talk about sex because it was a sin. “We were kept in the dark and sexuality remained an elusive topic.” The information they did get, was often incorrect. “Without the right SRHR information some of my friends got pregnant, dropped out of school or got married at a young age.”

sex-pleasure-religion

THE
INTERVENTION

Brenda went to the capital Nairobi to get her degree. “I thought university students would be smart and informed, but I didn’t see a big difference. Most young people I met shied away from speaking about sexuality, even though it played such an important role in their lives.”

She went on to join the Network for
Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA) as
a youth advocate, but says she was shy
and narrow minded at first. She
experienced quite a shock, because not
only was sexuality discussed openly also
taboo topics such as homosexuality and
abortion were talked about by NAYA
and trainers from CHOICE. “It was a good
learning opportunity for me and I
discovered that I had prejudice and was
discriminating others unknowingly.”

“we are not just a number. we can grow up and be like normal people who can look forward to a better future!”

– BRENDA

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THE CURRENT
SITUATION

Now Brenda actively advocates with NAYA for the sexual reproductive health and rights of young people. She is also involved in broadcasting radio shows where they inform the youth and discuss various challenges the young people are facing. “I am passionate about seeing a change in my country.”

In March, Brenda attended the Commission on Population and Development in New York, a unique opportunity to interact with youth advocates from other countries and experience advocacy at the highest level. “I learned that we cannot achieve change alone, we need to support each other. I look forward to invest in my own community in the village, to start up conversations with young people. Meaningful participation of young people is the key to the sustainable development of any country. We are more than statistics in a report. We are right holders and part and parcel of sustainable development. We are not just a number. We can grow up and be normal people who can look forward to a better future!”

Read more about the CPD
naya

ABOUT NAYA

The Kenyan Network of Adolescents and Youth of Africa (NAYA) is a youth-led regional advocacy network. They envisage a society where the reproductive health and rights of adolescent and youths are energized, provided and respected. To achieve such a society, NAYA aims at enhancing the capacity of youth advocates and civil society organizations to advocate for comprehensive SRHR. They enlist the support of policy makers, opinion leaders, donors, the media, like-minded organizations and individuals in advocating for reforms and implementation of international, national and county policies and legislation to improve the quality and accessibility of SRHR information and services. NAYA and CHOICE have been partners since 2012. We are currently working together within the Get Up Speak Out program, the Yes I Do program and the Right Here Right Now program.

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Further reading

Stories of change

the importance of online connecting

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