From 11th to 16th of February, our team was in Mbarara district for the U-Decide peer educators’ selection and training. The purpose of the selection and training was to interview and select more competent young people from ages of 18-24 years to act as peer educators in areas of Rugando and Bugamba to ease access of SRH services and referral to health centres. Additionally it was to train the new and old peer educators on SRH.
Our U-Decide project, is a two year innovative intervention in Mbarara implemented with Reproductive Health Uganda in partnership with Rutgers that ensures continued empowerment of young people with Sexual Reproductive Health information through a peer to peer led approach focusing on skilling young people as peer educators through an innovative training approach; The Peer Educators’ Academy.
We kicked off with conducting of interviews in the sub counties of Kinoni and Rugando where peers underwent a simple interview where they were asked to read and write particular information to ascertain that they met the criteria used for selection of peer educators.
This criteria went further to inquire into the daily lives of the peers, what they do in their communities and how they would be of assistance once they are taken on by the respective organizations to do peer education in their communities. The peer educators who passed the interviews combined with the ones that were going to be retained totalled to 47 and were then taken through a training where they were educated on sexual reproductive health and services and how they can be ambassadors of this information to their communities.
Our trainers Zaituni Nabateregga and Bakshi Asuman took the peer educators through important lessons on SRH among which included STDs and STIs, contraception, life and communication skills. Their training additionally gave insight on use of youth friendly services and empowered the young people to purposefully engage in community over on going SRH challenges.
Putting in mind the cultural, social and economic constraints of the deeper parts of the country including the aforementioned sub counties of Rugando and Bugamba in Mbarara, the newly trained peer educators were introduced to the SautiPlus e-referral system through which they were to be given phones that would contain referral points and nearby health centres with the hope of young people easily reaching out in order to access SRH services.
With the training coming to an end, the Mbarara District Health Officer (DHO), Dr. Peter Ssebutinde appreciated the work of youth organizations like Reach A Hand Uganda that are going the extra mile to reach the remotest areas of the country to educate young people about SRH. He recognised the role the peer educators play in society and emphasized the importance of getting the SRH message to fellow young people.
“It’s important for Peer educators to be organised & role models of character. It is easier for young people to look up to them, respect & approach them to be referred to health services and create SRH awareness.” Dr. Peter Ssebutinde