Despite the barriers of COVID19 restrictions, ACET DRC have been able to innovate and pivot their programmes to ensure that they still reach as many young people as possible.
5,616 young people participated in interactive life skills and sexual and reproductive health lessons led by trained ACET educators during the first 6 months of 2020. Key topics were puberty, self-esteem, healthy relationships, and goal setting for the future.
Despite school closures, the education programme was established in 5 new schools, in addition to the 20 previous schools, equipping students with skills and resilience that proved crucial during the lockdown and will continue to help their development in the recovery period.
ACET DRC Life Skills clubs provide leadership opportunities for students to become peer educators and champion good sexual health. The 120 existing peer educators have remained dedicated to the programme and 44 new peer educators have been recruited this year. Their input has been instrumental in delivering important COVID19 messages to their peers in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
We CELEBRATE that there have been no cases of teenage pregnancy in ACET DRC’s partner schools this year, compared to 15 in 2018. This is testament to the commitment of the teachers in a country where 27% of girls becomes pregnant aged 15-19 - the 7th highest rate in the world.
"Life was hard because I had to take on manual labour and engage in sex work to pay my school fees. I was so desperate I thought I would not make it in life and had suicidal thoughts. My life was saved when the new chaplain came to my school and introduced the programme where we discuss healthy relationships.
I learnt that it is dangerous to have unprotected sex. I went to get an HIV test and know how to protect myself. I also learned how to set goals for the future and I have decided that I want to become a construction engineer to help my country."
Listening centres are run by school chaplains trained by ACET DRC, providing one-to-one pastoral support, counselling and advice on sexual and reproductive health.
Over 990 children were counselled in the first 6 months of the year.
In a culture where topics such as sex and mental health are not talked about openly, this is an especially important service for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
15 counsellors attended a week long training event at the start of the year, to ensure that high quality counselling is provided and that safeguarding practices are implemented.
"The most useful part of the training was learning what to do if a client discloses or tells me something personal they are going through, for example, abuse. I know how to report and deal with concerns and how to look out for signs and symptoms of abuse." Bwakya Primary School Chaplain
* name changed to protect identity