TCI Youth Champion in Kenya Stands Up For Contraceptives
Contributors: Njeri Mbugua and Nancy Aloo
Movinta Akinyi is a student in Migori County, Kenya, who wants to stay in school because she hopes to become a surgeon one day. This is why she decided to get a contraceptive implant from a health facility supported by The Challenge Initiative (TCI) – Arombe Dispensary – in her neighborhood to avoid any unplanned pregnancies.
Movinta felt empowered by her decision to adopt a method, and returned to school to tell her classmates about how they could too. One of her guidance counselors, though, became very upset with Movinta when she noticed the implant in her arm and instructed her to go back to where she got it and have it removed, immediately.
Not wanting to be thrown out of school, Movinta returned to Arombe Dispensary to have the implant removed. Luckily, a youth dialogue session led by TCI Youth Champions was happening at the facility that day. These youth champions counseled Movinta and confirmed that her guidance counselor had wrong information about implants.
“The guidance counselor who chased me away used to do the same to other girls, and some of these girls later became pregnant,” said Movinta, who was determined to change the way teachers at her school viewed contraceptives and help other young girls like herself. Movinta decided to become a TCI Youth Champion.
TCI Youth Champions are young people advocating for adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) solutions across the cities where TCI works in Kenya. They mobilize others their age to attend integrated community outreaches and seek contraceptive counseling from health facilities that have undergone a youth-focused whole-site orientation. TCI has partnered with local governments to integrate youth champions into regular government meetings and participate in TCI’s Program Implementation Team (PIT) meetings, where important decisions are made about how best to reach young people with the information they need. Many of the champions are young men, who are instrumental in reaching other young men that are frequently overlooked in family planning programs.
Armed with knowledge and empowered by the youth champions she met, Movinta went to her head teacher to explain what had happened with the guidance counselor. To her surprise, her head teacher was supportive of family planning. The head teacher worked with the Migori County Health Department to sensitize teachers and provide them with accurate information on contraceptives. Four of the teachers attended one of TCI’s community dialogue sessions where participants speak openly about sexual and reproductive health.
“What we learned was her guidance counselor thought that the implant made young women infertile, which is why she wanted Movinta to get it removed. She was only trying to help,” said Fred Ouma, the Suna West sub-county government staff who focuses on AYSRH.
Today, teachers at Movinta’s school are AYSRH champions. Because of her courage, she helped create a supportive environment for young people, even when adults challenged her efforts.
“The situation became a blessing. I was given the opportunity to talk to my classmates about the benefits of family planning and encourage them to see a healthcare provider. So far, I have successfully referred 35 classmates to be counseled on their contraceptive options,” said Movinta. “The teacher who chased me away is now talking to her students about the importance of contraceptives.”