This month Shanti Uganda has been conducting Teen Girls Workshops. In the past couple of weeks we've tackled some pretty serious subject matter and the girls took it in with grace and keen attention. Some of our topics for the weekend were: menstruation, sexual anatomy, keeping track of one’s cycle, HIV, rape, family planning and healthy relationships. Whew! It was quite important material to touch on in a matter of 5 hours or so. Annet, one of the midwives at Shanti, went over several of the topics in a very frank and straightforward manner. With the material we were going over just about making me blush, I was impressed with the maturity of these girls, some as young as thirteen, to listen attentively, ask and answer questions, and seem generally unfazed by the entire discussion. It was very heartening to see.
Our Teen Girls Workshops take place at the Shanti Uganda Birth House and girls from the surrounding villages attend a series of classes that focus on health, empowerment and story telling. Since 2007, the workshops empower young girls to become more aware and confident in their bodies and include discussion time, team building exercises, parter yoga and breath-work.
At this month's workshop, Yvonne, one of the leaders of the Shanti Women’s Income Generating Group, to speak on the topic of HIV prevention, education, and how to live a healthy life with HIV. All the members of the women’s group have AIDS, so she was an excellent person to speak on this topic. It’s so amazing to see what the women’s group has done for this group of women living with AIDS. They went from living a poor, very ill existence, ostracized from their communities, to putting money aside in savings and having the numeracy skills to understand the importance of that, living healthier lives thanks to vitamins, better nutrition and yoga, and acting as leaders in the community. Yvonne is a prime example of this – she may even consider running for local politics in the next election!