At 12 pm, Friday, August 24th the AIHT classroom was filled with over 80 young women from around the community. This was the third installment of Sagam’s reproductive health talks. This talk, however, was unique. Not only would this event be led by a female sex educator from KMET, but the group would also be joined by the Siaya County Woman’s representative and members of the Sagam Rotary Club.
The event started with a demonstration from Cecilia, one of the outreach nurses, on how to use the sanitary pads donated by Skylark. This was followed by a presentation from Caroline Nendez, an educator on sexual reproductive health interventions. Caroline will be joining the outreach team in the coming months as they reach out to young girls in the community. She was an engaging speaker, interacting with the crowd of teenagers to young adults like an older, knowledgeable sister. She showed the girls various forms of contraception and birth control – highlighting the benefits and downsides associated with each intervention. In addition, she led a fascinating demonstration on the proper use of male and female condoms. Many in the crowd, both young and old, had never seen a female condom before and found her presentation to be truly eye opening. This demonstration, coupled with the free condom’s available through the Comprehensive Care Clinic at Sagam Community Hospital, will be crucial in preventing under-aged pregnancies.
The girls then had the opportunity to ask questions. Many of these young women were truly looking to understand and engage with the material. One girl asked about the effectiveness of each type of contraception at stopping pregnancy. Caroline answered in stride, categorizing contraception into the natural methods and therapeutic/mechanical methods. She highlighted the downsides of natural methods like withdrawal or calendar tracking, noting that extra vigilance and partner cooperation is needed for these to be effective.
Before any other questions could be asked, Christine Ombaka, the Women’s Representative of Siaya county entered the room. She was accompanied by Otieno Siguru (MCA of Gem Sub-county), members of the rotary club, and Dr. Khama Rogo (Sagam’s founder). After introductions, Dr. Rogo gave a brief address reminding the girls that they play an integral role in the future of Sagam community. He encouraged those present to strive for greater civic and community engagement. After this address, Elizabeth Ogada, Sagam’s matron gave a brief presentation on the Sagam outreach team. This was followed by a brief introduction on the origins and accomplishments of the Reproductive Health Talks by Javan Ogoch. The MCA of Gem sub-county also briefly highlighted how proud he was of the Sagam Outreach Team – noting the importance of continued community support for Sagam’s young women.
Christine Ombaka then took the stage. A previous visitor of Sagam, Ms. Ombaka commended the hospital for interacting closely with the local community and for driving cervical cancer and HIV screening around Siaya county. She also offered her knowledge and experience as a teacher and video producer to help with future reproductive health talks. Finally, Christine Ombaka summarized the various initiatives around Siaya that she has played an integral role in creating. Most relevant was the new legislature that limits marriages to individuals above the age of 18. This law helps to protect under-aged pregnant mothers from forced marriages, allowing many to finish their education. Finally, she encouraged the girls to join community groups and to continue offering ideas for community improvement. With those final remarks, the third Reproductive Health Talks ended with refreshments and mandazi.
Sagam Hospital sincerely thanks Christine Ombaka, Otieno Siguru, and Caroline Nendez from KMET for taking part in this important outreach effort. We look forward to continued partnership with the Siaya County government, Skylark, and KMET to drive improved sex education within Gem sub-county.