It was a very exciting and productive two days! Anna and I presented at 4 schools, completing a total of 5 presentations as one school was primary and secondary so Anna presented on her own.
On Thursday, we headed toward the airport on Entebbe road and presented in two schools in the village of Garuga. We arrived at our first school, Bugabo Lakeview Primary, in the pouring rain and as the school was up a hill, we trudged through the rain to get up to the class where the primary girls were waiting. Teacher Suzan was there to support our program. There were 50 girls in P6 and 7 and they were all very fluent in English which actually surprised me as often in Kampala we need an interpreter.
One of the big issues we discussed was the idea of “pulling” where the girls are being taught that by pulling their inner labial lips, they will have an easier time in childbirth, be more attractive, or even be protected against rape because they won’t part to let the man enter. It is delicate to challenge what their community is teaching them. I did emphasize that if a man wants to rape them, their labial lips would not protect them. I would hate for them to think it was their fault if they got raped because they didn’t “pull” enough. I explained that there is no harm in pulling as long as they don’t do it to hurt themselves because we all modify our bodies to be more beautiful. However, it would not be beneficial for childbirth (unless someone can find me an article that shows otherwise) and that it would never prevent rape. Also, we are all beautiful as we are. We don’t need to modify ourselves in any way.
Our second school was called Airport View and we spoke with the P4-7 girls. It was one of my favourite types of presentations as we were under a tree, just talking. The girls wrote and asked a variety of questions, including ones about pulling. It’s obviously a very important practice in the area. We spoke with 40 girls.
Friday, we headed toward Bombo. Our first school was an orphan school that had all the grades. Uncle Joseph (a reverend) runs the school and was incredibly grateful for the presentation. He says that organizations offer these teaching but there is always a fee so ours being offered for free is very appreciated.
I mentioned that part of the presentation that we offer is family planning including proper condom use and did he want that for the secondary girls. As it was a school run by a church, I wasn’t sure this would be an option. This was his reply:
“A few years ago, proper condom use and free distribution was part of the teaching but then some conservative members of the community said it was promoting sexual relations. So it was banned. And we had more girls fall pregnant. Yes, we teach abstinence as the first choice but girls are playing sex. Please show them.” So I did.
Anna took the primary girls and taught them on her own while I did the secondary presentation. Anna is doing an awesome job… my brain is ticking about getting kits made here fully and having her run this program. Soon I will be redundant!
The last school was waaaaaayyyy along a dirt road in Gombe that took us a few tries back and forth to find. They weren’t aware that we were coming because the head was away but they rounded up the 22 secondary girls and we presented to them. Here we discussed the idea that stretch marks make a woman more attractive and one even said that they are told that stretch marks make a girl taste more sweet.
These girls had seen and done it all. While we always promote abstinence and staying in school, I hope these girls got the message that giving their boyfriends 1000 shillings to buy condoms is a good thing to do. “If you want to be protected, you need to make sure he has condoms.” They are seen as prostitutes if they buy condoms so hopefully they will encourage their boyfriends to buy and use them.
They all know how to use them now. And the boys were waiting for them when we were done.
Interestingly, when I showed the female condom, none had ever seen them, even the teachers. One teacher was incredulous as the size and complexity of it. “My man will refuse this,” she told me.
302 kits distributed in 2 days! A great start to the program.
Have an awesome day.