Christina ‘Intan’ Nitbani, is a 14-year-old student in a small rural village in West Timor, Indonesia. She is the youngest of three children and an only daughter. Intan, like most girls her age, and even much older, are not well informed about their basic biology and health. “Sex and reproduction are taboo topics here”, said Intan. “So, young people like me can’t fully educate ourselves about our bodies during such a dynamic time of life. I feel so fortunate [thanks to CWS and Berdaya] to be able to learn more for myself, and to share with my friends and others”.
Intan started partnering with CWS as a Peer Educator for about sexual and reproductive health so girls like her, and boys too, could improve their wellbeing by receiving better information and by sharing with each other in peer-led education sessions. In West Timor, as around the world, peer efforts are known to amplify effectiveness of many types of teaching and learning as young people feel more comfortable learning about culturally sensitive topics with their peers. This has proved to be true in the CWS-led Berdaya initiative, which is an extension of the Timor Zero Hunger project who overall aim is to help families, especially women and girls, improve their lives and wellbeing.
In support of this aim, Intan meets with her peers every Monday, “It is important for us to know [correct information] so we take care of ourselves properly, and not harm ourselves or jeopardize our future”, said Intan. And, with CWS support, her info-sessions are not like your typical in-school sex education or biology classes. She and other leaders use songs and hands-on learning to motivate their peers to learn about their own puberty, risks of unprotected sex and unplanned pregnancy, which are all too common and always lead to school dropout and early marriage in places like Intan’s village.
So far, in 2019, 19 Peer Educators have led 118 one-day adolescence sexual reproductive health info-sharing, knowledge-building and behavior change sessions. Feedback from the sessions, mostly from pre- and post-tests are showing that Berdaya efforts are empowering young women to know and understand their bodies, and helping them develop skills to use when in they are in risky situations.
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