THE AMBASSADOR GIRLS’ SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMME
Under the Ambassador Girls’ Scholarship Programme (AGSP), ISODEC has accomplished so many activities. These include forming the AGSP drama groups and holding auditioning and drama conferences for them, training the facilitators on girls mentoring guide, carrying out a video outreach programme on reproductive health rights, HIV/AIDS and other STIs in Bongo and Garu-Tempane districts, and awards of scholarships to some participants in the programme.
Though not planned for the month, ISODEC was able to successfully execute a video outreach programme in the month. Video shows have proven to be an effective way of getting community members to participate in social events including education programmes. As a result and as was proposed, ISODEC embarked on a video show outreach programme to all AGSP beneficiary school communities where scholars and their parents/guardians, community chiefs and opinion leaders, women and children were reached and educated on HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health rights.
In all, 7 AGSP school communities, namely Vea, Goo, Boko, Gowrie,and Anafobissi, all in the Bongo district and Kpatia and Denugu in the Garu-Tempane district were visited and video films on HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies and abortion shown.
Beyond creating awareness among community members including scholars about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, other STIs and teenage pregnancy as well as making an effort to reduce stigma against persons living with HIV/AIDS, the outreach programme also afforded ISODEC the opportunity to assess communities’ views on why girls become pregnant and drop out of school.
Social events such as funerals, discotheques, cultural practices, lack of parental control, deviant behavior and teachers sexually abusing students were counted by community members as casual factors for teenage pregnancies and drop outs. The breakdown of the extended family system and the move towards individualism and nuclear family systems were also mentioned as factors contributing to the incidence of teenage pregnancies and for that girls dropping out of school.
They suggested that chiefs should lead the crusade to ban school children from attending discotheques and funeral rites and that teachers need to be more responsible in disciplining pupils.
The Q&A sessions however brought to the fore the need for a consistent continual awareness creation around the issues of the spread of HIV/AIDS and anti-stigma. This is because suggestions made by some community members on how to prevent the spread of the disease during the outreach programme were not only extremely radical but also hugely informed by ignorance. For instance, a participant from the Vea community wanted all those diagnosed with HIV to be banned from selling cooked food and trading in the market. An elderly man from the Gowrie community did not believe that HIV/AIDS exist and said the sick persons shown in the video films as AIDS patients were suffering from pneumonia.
A 70 plus year old man from Goo suggested that all those diagnosed with HIV either be castrated or be “injected to death.
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