My name is Bartholomew Sunga, and I am 25 years old. I have lived on Mbabala Island for 9 years now. I started working with VSO in 2016 as a peer educator on the Adolescent Talk project. After the project ended, we moved on to Talk II and are now on Talk III.
My work on the Talk III project
VSO have taught us many things that have helped us here on the island. They taught us on various topics and have given us training on things like sexual reproductive health. As community volunteers we agree which area we'd like to go to and then speak to the headman of the village to mobilize the people their and conduct a meeting with the community. These meetings aim to help our communities change from their old ways, change their habits and learn about sexual reproductive health.
Helping young people in my community
For youth, we have sessions at their schools with permission from the head teacher, and give classes speaking to about the problems that affect them. Problems like drug and substance abuse, puberty, and adolescence and what they need to know before they come of age.
In cases where we have shortages of pills or injections, youth can come to use and we give them condoms and teach them how to use them. We teach them that in the absence of the pill or injection contraceptives, it’s better to use condoms, because condoms protect you from pregnancy as well as diseases. We have a youth friendly space provided by the clinic and they are welcome there with any questions. I have taught over 50 people how to use condoms.
The change I'm making
The situation for young people is now much better than it was here in Mbabala. It helped us in many ways. In the past early marriages were a common thing but have now been reduced. Teenage pregnancies have also reduced compared to before the VSO project. There is a very huge difference that I have seen in this village since joining the project. Before VSO and Adolescent TALK, people didn't know about family planning. Now they know and they come to get contraceptives, such that we even run out of stock!
‘Being the Change’ through volunteering for development
I think what makes us different is that unlike other volunteers, we have good training from VSO. We target youth and transform them from their old ways into a better life. We use Talking Books to teach ourselves and the youth about sexual and reproductive health. After listening to the Talking Book, we have a question and answer session to clarify anything that was not understood and reinforce the lessons.
Through the training that we offer, we want our communities to change from their old ways, we don't want them to go back to their old ways.
We teach them about sexual and reproductive health and puberty while they're still in adolescence, because when they become teenagers they'll experience a lot of difficulties. This is why before they become adults, we need to change their attitudes."
Want to know more?
Our TALK! (Training and Local Knowledge) project is harnessing the power of community volunteering to improve young people's sexual and reproductive health in rural Zambian communities.
Thematic Partnership Lead-Resilient Livelihoods, Vladymir Rivera, recounts his experience of visiting our agroecology project in Siaya, Kenya sharing his notes from the field.
Hear from Tugwell, a Social Accountability Advisor under the Speak It Loud project in Zimbabwe. He brings his 16 years’ experience as a social worker to help end violence against women and strengthen the women’s movement.
Right now, over 3.5 million people are on the brink of starvation across drought-ravaged Kenya. With large parts of the country having suffered a fourth consecutive season of failed rains, crops have been decimated and livestock killed, destroying the livelihoods of many Kenyans.