Before CWS-supported Peer Educators came to her village, 18-year-old Yulianti Elenda Tetty, knew nothing factual about sexual and reproductive health. “Our school never taught about this, and no other people ever really talk about it either”, said Yanti, who is a high school senior. When not in school, Yanti helps her mother with housework. In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball and singing in a church choir.
Yanti first heard about the opportunity to learn more about her own health from her village’s Health Post volunteers. Having learned more, themselves, about adolescent sexual and reproductive health as part of the Berdaya (empowerment) initiative, the volunteers were supported by CWS to share their new knowledge. Yanti eagerly accepted the invitation to learn. She was glad for the chance to ask direct questions and discuss common problems. Her drive to know more set Yanti apart, and she was asked to become a Peer Educator, which she agreed to do. As a Peer Educators she now shares information with school friends and neighbors, often in informal ways. “I always tell my friends to take care of themselves and think about the future”. Yanti’s advice is important because too many girls, and boys, in West Timor don’t know enough about the own biology. So, they have unwanted pregnancies. The result is early marriage leading to school drop out and, equally damaging, low birth-weight babies born to too-young mothers, whose futures are not so bright as Yanti had hoped for them.
Rather than be discouraged by other’s choices or mistakes, Yanti is now expanding her own work by helping lead social media campaigns about reproductive health. And, she has talked to hundreds of teenagers throughout her own and surrounding villages. In the last campaign in her village Yanti joined in a lively public debate which, she notes, “was an excellent opportunity for me become stronger and bolder when talking in front of many people” – which an educator must be. So, Yanti is well on her way to becoming truly empowered! CWS team members are pleased to realize that this will help her as a Peer Educator for adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and for other life lessons and leadership to come.
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