In March, Gap Year girls visited 8 secondary and high schools to conduct 3-hour workshops on sexual and reproductive health. You could hear a pin drop until the Q & A!
Both boys and girls- from 8th to 13th grades- asked about menstruation, safe healthy relationships and STI's. Gap Year girls spoke to 1,404 teenagers in classrooms, auditoriums and under a canopy of trees.
At Karatu Boys High School, Gap girls spoke confidently in front of 715 boys, encouraging volunteers to demonstrate the proper use of condoms on a penis model. Gap girls were unflappable when responding to questions such as
What is the disadvantage of boys using condoms?
What are the effects of masturbation when boys do it all the time?
Do boys get fistula?
Is it true that some girls during menstruation don’t understand in the classroom when teachers teach?
How do you end a sexual relationship you’ve had for years?
In Tanzanian schools there are no sex education classes. There are many taboos and commonly held beliefs surrounding puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, STI’s and HIV. Youth receive conflicting, muddled information about sex and their bodies which makes it difficult for them to safely navigate their reproductive health.
Gap Year Girls distributed 1,100 books on puberty for girls and boys. Written in English and KiSwahili, these books were published by the non-profit Grow and Know, with the approval of the Tanzanian Minister of Education.
These workshops were a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity for our students who learned crucial skills in leading these mature discussions about sexual health. Melanie is now considering becoming a social worker. Her motto is “Be you and be you at your best.
Nowadays in Tanzania teenagers are more comfortable talking about body issues than their parents. Gap girls are ‘spreading the word’ about what healthy sexual relationships can be, informing and motivating teenagers who are quickly becoming young men and women.