THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

SAYWHAT progress report: January to June 2005
Students And Youths Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT)
September 22, 2005

The economic situation has steadily deteriorated since the beginning of the year. Nothing has improved and this has made our work extremely difficult as students. Fuel shortages has worsened and transport costs have sky rocketed, costs of goods and services have gone up by huge percentages thereby throwing the operational of the project completely unbearable since students participate on voluntary basis. As a result of the economic melt down, the vulnerability of students has also sky rocketed bringing more challenges for the project. It has been a nightmare to carry out a number of planned activities due a number of economic factors. Despite all the economic problems, the responses of students have been tremendous and the project have made a difference in student's life.

1.1 Kicking Stigma Out Of Agricultural Colleges
Agricultural Colleges has been left out in a number of reproductive health awareness programmes which were being offered to other students in other colleges. This has been due to a number of factors including their geographical location and that they fall under a different ministry other than that of Education. SAYWHAT took advantages of the Agricultural Sports which took place at Kushinga Phikelela Agricultural College and all seven Agric colleges were present.

Discussions were held with students from seven (7) different colleges on a number of issues concerning reproductive health. There were some information desks where students could get reading materials which were sourced from different organisations including CWGH, SafAids and ZAN. Students also had a chance to discuss about the correct use of male and female condoms. Demonstrations were done on how to properly use the female and male condoms. The demonstrations attracted a lot of attention from both male and female students. The presence of social evenings that provided entertainment-education made a big difference and impact. Students were afforded a chance to discuss about their reproductive health while having funny.

1.2 Capacity building

1.2.1 International Leadership Conference - Egypt

SAYWHAT in its endeavour to capacity build the students in the running of the project and enable sustainability through sound administration sent the Chairperson to attend a leadership conference in Egypt. International Students Leadership Conference was hosted by the American University in Cairo provided some leadership skills to students preparing them for challenges faced under different socio-economic environment. There were some thematic workshops with different simulations that reflects some real life leadership challenges. Students had a chance to solve such problems as groups and present to other groups who also gave their own critics. The SAYWHAT Chairperson learnt a lot from that leadership conference. After the one week conference, students were given certificates for participating actively in that leadership conference.

1.2.2 Stepping Stones facilitation
SAYWHAT had two students who were also trained in Stepping Stones Facilitating training which was being offered by CWGH. Stepping Stones is a communication tool which is used to bridge the communication gap between generations. The tool also improves the communication problems that are likely to be encountered in relationships or marriages. This training also involves coming up with user friendly terms that can be used while referring to some sexual organs and actions. The trainings touch a lot about gender equity in relations and between generations.

The students are now qualified facilitators for the tool after under going the one week training. These students shall be facilitating such training workshops in different colleges when SAYWHAT manage to source enough resources for the workshops. This tool has proved to be very effective following the evaluations in areas where it is being implemented by CWGH. Students are yet to get a chance to under go such a very useful training. Such trainings improves the capacity of students at the same time reduce expenses in hiring of facilitators from outsiders who are very expensive. Student to student discussions and training has proved to be quite effective.

1.2.3 Savings methodology
SAYWHAT had a committee member trained in the facilitation of the Savings Methodology (SM) training. SM is a poverty alleviation programme which is being implemented by CWGH among youths. After some realisations that poverty is being labelled as the number one causing factor of STI's amongst youths, this programmes teaches youths to go into groups and start serving money and venture into self-help income generating projects. The Training of Facilitators was done and SAYWHAT have a member who is equipped with such knowledge which shall be used to train other students. This is a very useful tool for students in different colleges whose funding is generally poor. The programme teaches students to be involved in Income Generating projects which can play a big role in reducing poverty thereby empowering students. An economically empowered student is less vulnerable in a sexual relationship.

1.3 Discussion Forums
In order to dispel a number of misconceptions and misunderstandings in matters concerning reproductive health amongst students, a number of discussion forums with different topics where done at college level. Students came up with different topics which they discuss and where necessary and possible, experts were invited to clarify on issues of concern. The discussion forums have seen experts from PADARE, WASN and PSI sharing different information with students on different reproductive health issues. The discussions brought a lot of revelations and have been a source of information and knowledge for different students. The forums enables students to discuss what they know, confirm what they are not sure of, with an open mind without fear of the college lectures since its for students by students with students. The use of condoms has always brought a lot of interesting debates among students where a number will be saying that condoms cannot give 100% protection due to the fluids that comes out of the females during sex.

The discussion forums shall be taken to regional level in the next half of the year so that students from different colleges in the same region can be able to meet at one college and discuss issues about their reproductive health. The discussions also are being used as a way of getting rid of stigma at colleges amongst students by creating debates over different issues. Some students after attending the discussion forums felt discourages to engage in such behaviour that will put them at risks.

1.4 Expansion
Since the beginning of the year the SAYWHAT project has seen a lot of colleges participating in its activities. SAYWHAT brought a platform for students to meet and discuss about their reproductive health issues. All Agricultural Colleges are now fully participating in this project with a lot more colleges willing to take part but the resources are straining the project. The colleges in the Midlands province are all participating in the discussions being organised by SAYWHAT. Students have been sharing information among themselves openly and that helped other students too.

Notably is the inclusion of Student Nurses. This sector of the student community has been left behind due to the nature of their studies. Though they are very busy as compared to other students in different colleges, they are equally vulnerable. It was a major step for SAYWHAT to involve such students since they bring in a lot of health knowledge given their study background. The students have been a source of more information in relation to STI's and other reproductive health problems.

1.5 Networking
SAYWHAT since the beginning of the year has been working towards fostering relations with different organisations working in health and other youths organisations. Efforts are still being made to access resources from National AIDS Council. NAC have resources meant for students but there is a lot bureaucracy and that makes the resources inaccessible. SAYWHAT shall also continue during the second half of the year to access the resources.

SAYWHAT has since started participating in other forums like the Social Forum adding the students' voice on issues to do with health. During the same period under review, SAYWHAT managed to interact with Zimbabwe AIDS Network and SafAIDS and different youths groups.

SAYWHAT participated in the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair 2005 which was held in Bulawayo. That Trade Fair gave the project a chance to network with different other organisations and it enhanced its capacity building in information and knowledge after some information exchange with different youths groups. The exchange also brought some realisations of the role that the private sector can also play in improving the health of students.

1.6 SAYWHAT Administration
SAYWHAT administration is being done by a coordinating committee of six youths and students on voluntary basis. The main administration is done at Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) in Eastlea, Harare. The Chairperson does the coordination with the assistance of other members from the CWGH offices. The coordinating committee have access to the fax and phones at CWGH, making the project administration and coordination somehow manageable. The coordinating person gets transport allowance from CWGH to cushion on the high transport costs and enable the smooth administration of the project.

The coordinating committee meet at CWGH every month to evaluate the progress being made and make decisions collectively on the direction the project must take. These meetings gives the mandate to the coordinating person on what needs to be done and how. These monthly meetings review the progress on the Annual Work Plan making changes where necessary and possible.

At college level, each participating college have a contact person who coordinates at that college level. That student does the coordination on voluntary basis and his/her main duties being to provide the link between the national committee and the local college authorities. The student also works closely with the AIDS Coordinator for the college.

The operational costs of all the interventions being done by SAYWHAT are being covered by Community Working Group on Health (CWGH). CWGH as part of their community responsibility found out that students and youths are more vulnerable especially in reproductive health matters hence their support of this project. The project committee shall however continue sourcing funds to support a lot of interventions and meet the challenges being encountered so far. Colleges are under funded such that nothing or little is being reserved for the student welfare especially health matters.

1.7 Conclusion
A number of activities that were planned for this period under review could not be under taken due to limited resources. Planning and organising for the project, like any planning in the country, has been harder than expected considering the unstable economic environment currently prevailing in the country. We are very grateful to our funding partner, CWGH, for their flexibility and understanding the project's needs during these trying times. The CWGH support made it possible to carry out all the activities that are highlighted in this progress report. The activities have also benefited a lot of students and had an impact on the greater understanding of their reproductive health.

Visit the SAYWHAT fact sheet

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.