Nuryadin Selan is the headmaster of the junior high school in Oebaki village in remote West Timor, where teenage pregnancies and early marriage are a serious concern. “At one point, I had only 30 girl students in my three classes because so many had dropped out,” noted Ms. Selan during a recent workshop about adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) education/training through peer educators.
In response to a long-recognized issue of too-early marriage and pregnancy in West Timor, CWS is partnering with the Disciples of Christ through their Week of Compassion initiative to pioneer Berdaya – that is, Empowerment – as a key element of Timor Zero Hunger initiative. While the idea of a sexual and reproductive health initiative might not seem logically linked to addressing issues of hunger, it actually is – not least because too-young mothers in food insecure communities like Oebaki, where many people are malnourished, are at very high risk of perpetuating the cycle of malnourishment and hunger, especially for their babies during the first one thousand days of life.
So, Ms. Selan said, “I really support the CWS project for sexual and reproductive health for youth. It’s important for them to know so many things about these topics. I’m concerned that too many girls marry young and don’t continue their studies” and so the lack of information and knowledge about the dangers of early pregnancy persist. “It’s important to involve schools and teachers like me; and you also need to involve the parents and religious and community leaders,” she added, so girls, and boys, get the same message from many angles.
At the end of the workshop everyone there affirmed that the Berdaya project is important for their village, especially their girls, and promised to work together to ensure its success.
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