On Thursday July 16th 2015, Katuuso Primary and Vocational School hosted a family planning workshop for all teachers, staff and parents. The workshop was delivered by a medical officer and a midwife from the local clinic in Muduuma to explain the importance of using contraception and to present the range of options available at the clinic, free of charge, to both men and women.
Everyone was quite shy at the beginning, but before long, an open conversation evolved and the questions started pouring out. Community members were very participatory, voicing their concerns and asking for clarification on old wives tales and myths about contraception. It was hopeful to see the participation of the SFL builders and agricultural workers, as sexual health and family planning awareness is just as important for men as it is for women. This particularly holds true in societies where men often have more decision-making power in relationships.
Condoms were distributed to all and a supply was left in the staffroom for individuals to access at their convenience. Everyone was encouraged to come to the clinic to discuss their options and avail themselves to the free contraceptive methods offered. According to the doctor [paraphrased]: “Men and women should make decisions about family planning together. This is not just a ‘woman’s’ issue and the only way it will be successful is if we all take responsibility.” There was a resounding applause from all the men and women in attendance.
Due to lack of education and cultural taboos surrounding the topic, the people living in Katuuso have little knowledge about sexual health and family planning methods. Consequently, many are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV) and unplanned pregnancy. Observations by senior management and consultants have identified a high number of pregnancies among young, single women living in Katuuso.