It’s been four weeks of active engagement with the girls in our mentorship programme, and we are incredibly proud of the journey so far.
Today, we had even more girls joining the group, drawing closer to our target of 60 girls from 3 Upper Basic Schools in the Greater Banjul Area. The usual round of introductions were spiced up with interesting facts from the newcomers, opening up the space to recap on our activities from last week.
This week, our session focused on puberty and the conversation was led by our Sainabou Nyang and Aji Isatou Saho, both experienced peer health educators. The girls kicked off with group discussions to define puberty and identify the various changes that occur in the bodies of girls and boys who’ve reached the age of puberty.
The girls went further to list the similarities and differences in these changes for the two groups; their responses aligned with our objective to gauge their understanding of these issues and determine the course of our conversation. We were particularly impressed by the great knowledge they already had on the subject.
In the four hours we spent together, we were able to discuss menstruation, hygiene, virginity and safe sex, providing guidance for these teenagers who have reached the age of experimentation and are, therefore, most in need of accurate information on their sexual and reproductive health. The girls shared experiences on their first menstruation cycles, expressing sentiments of surprise, confusion and excitement at various levels. This part of the conversation took a while as we discussed the best/most convenient brands of sanitary pads to use during menstruation. Our mentors shared their experiences and useful tips to make sure we all purchase the right products and provide the necessary care for our bodies.
Our discussions further strengthened our belief in the need to have these spaces for girls, where conversations can be had without risk of judgement or shame. The issues raised during each session have been crucial to building the knowledge and understanding of the girls on a range of social issues that affect them directly and indirectly.
It’s been four weeks and we are very proud to see how much the girls have grown, how much maturity they bring to the conversations, and how they have chosen to stand by one another through the journey and beyond. That’s four weeks worth celebrating!