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5On 24th July 2015, Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD)in partnership with the District Education offices of Kiboga and Kyankwanzi and Our Lady Technical and Vocational institute with support from HIVOS engaged students in a competitive Music Dance and Drama Festival as a way of tackling abortion stigma.

The activity that was well organised by CEHURD’s structure of Community Health advocates attracted a total of 9 schools with four of these actively participating in plays, original composition and traditional dances. Students educated others on dangers of unsafe abortions, the need to seek and access contraceptive use, importance of using condoms and abstinence from sex among others. They cautioned fellow students and the general about secretly aborting and using local herbs that have ended up killing many of their friends.

This festival was equally an opportunity for health service providers to educate the students and the communities about the myths and misconceptions of abortion, family planning services available at the different health facilities in the two districts and health workers cautioned parents, students and fellow professionals, to ensure that sexual reproductive health services are sought and provided.

“It has come to our notice that service providers are not confidential about people’s information. This has scared girls and women away from accessing sexual and reproductive health rights services in different facilities. We appeal to women and girls here to come back to the facilities and ensure that they seek and access these services” cautioned Sr Veronica Masanja(Senior Clinical Officer, Nyamiringa Health Centre II)

The impact of the messages, that were well crafted by the students to pass on Sexual and Reproductive Health issues could be felt in the audiences. Nankinga, a lady in her late 40s acknowledged the great talent the young people portrayed during the competitions, but most importantly how well they managed to pass on the messages. “I see so many girls from this village, who sneak and go to quack midwives to abort, that use funny metallic instruments that have even rusted, girls should take these messages seriously.’ emphasised Ms.Nankinga who says she works in a retail shop in the town of Kiboga.
Hired professional judges gave judgement on who and which school best gave out the message of the day in harmony with the theme (SRH; MY CHOICE) .Katoma Secondary school emerged the best and was awarded with a plaque by Eng Musisi, the guest of Honor District.

With the overwhelming support from the locals to ensure the event was a success, a sustainability plan was idealised for the community to own up this initiative. After the event, the team from CEHURD headed by Mr. Mulumba the Executive Director, engaged the local leaders of Kiboga and Kyankwanzi in order to have a sustainable plan with them for the activities CEHURD is holding in the two districts.
The meeting highlighted expectations from both teams and streamlined the relationship and realistic support to be provided by the team from CEHURD but ownership of the projects by the communities and there leaders stood out clearly, as CEHURD emphasised that these projects need continuity and sensitisation had to continue through their support.

Margaret Katasi and Nakibuuka Noor

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