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PIA Press Release

Young girls decide on reproductive health issue

Catbalogan, Samar (3 December) -- November was a busy month for the Waray-Waray Youth Advocates (WARAYA) with three vital workshop-cum-trainings conducted in preparation for their latest project - the Girls Education Through Peers (GET Peers), which aims to heighten awareness on Adolescent Reproductive Health among young girls through peer counseling and peer education.

According to Laiminh Mabulay, a Waraya alumni, GET Peers is a project grant from the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) that is being implemented in Brgy. Silanga, Catbalogan City and Brgy. Mercado, Basey, Samar.

It will cater to young girls of reproductive age from two different segments - the school-based and the community-based.

This was meant to address the difference in issues and experiences that each group go through. Another important feature of the project is the participation of Community Based Volunteers (CBVs, adult women who will extend technical assistance to the young female educators and counselors.

Two of the three trainings were held at the Waling-Waling Inn in Brgy. Munoz, Catbalogan starting with the capability building for the Community-Based Volunteers (CBV) last November 5 and 6. The participants came from Brgy. Silanga, Catbalogan City and Brgy. Mercado, Basey; which are the two chosen project areas.

With a project that will require personal interaction with adolescent girls, it was important for the key players to have sufficient information on how to perform their designated roles. The exercises and lectures were centered on teaching them how to deal with adolescents, but since the project aims to showcase an ideal youth - adult partnership, the CBVs are expected to be more than just technical hands.

The CBVs are also expected to assume a maternal role towards their younger counterparts. Such a responsibility requires comprehensive knowledge of Reproductive Health and Adolescent Reproductive Health issues and its other component topics such as Gender and Development as well as AIDS and HIV.

The trainings for the young girls who will be peer counselors and educators came next. The training for Catbalogan's would-be counselors was conducted from the 11th until the 13th of the same month.

The participants were residents of Brgy. Silanga and students of Catbalogan National Comprehensive High School (CNCHS).

The following week, the WARAYA team headed to Basey for the training of the pool of counsellors and educators from Basey National High School and Brgy. Mercado.

For the young minds, preparation for their counselling gig included lectures on life skills that adolescents must develop among themselves.

A large part of the topic had to do with self-awareness. This life skill serves as the foundation of one's identity and in turn, having a strong sense of identity will enable a peer counselor to present sound options to her counselees. The lectures on HIV and AIDS were among the most sensitive topics.

Aside from raising their awareness, these were meant to heighten their sensitivity about its risks especially to young people like them.

The girls were also taught several tips on communication and public speaking as a prelude to the topic on peer counselling and peer educating. The meat of the workshop however, was the simulated counselling wherein the participants were grouped into pairs. Each one took turns in playing the role of counselor and counsellee while tackling given situations that are commonly faced by teenagers.

This exercise enabled the participants to get more tips as to which habits they should avoid or keep while counselling.

This three-day training and workshop serves as the girls' first exposure to the Reproductive Health advocacy and other issues that it is linked to such as - Adolescent Reproductive Health, gender equality and HIV and AIDS prevention and education.

To mark this new chapter in their lives, the last day was highlighted by the pledge of commitment given by each participant, signifying their willingness to embrace these causes not just as peer counselors or educators, but especially as well-informed and empowered young female leaders. (Laiminh Mabulay with PIA Samar) [top]

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