The breakdancing condom consultant: Dennis from Bosnia

Dennis

A champion breakdancer and home-town celebrity can end up with a pretty dissolute social life. Nightclubs, drinking, one-night stands: it’s not an entirely unsurprising story. In Bosnia, it’s one which breakdancer Dennis certainly experienced.

But contact with the Association for Sexual and Reproductive Health XY (the Member Association in Bosnia and Herzegovnia) led him to rethink his lifestyle and consider the people around him.

Startled by his friends' lack of awareness, Dennis found himself advising friends on condom use and in 2006, he linked up with the XY Association to work on The Green Light Project. The Green Light Project, funded by the IPPF Innovation Fund, is working to combat people trafficking and its impacts.

People trafficking for sexual exploitation is a massive problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has devastating long-term sexual health effects on the individuals involved. Traffickers target the most vulnerable: often young women with limited education and high economic need, and those experiencing domestic violence and abuse. These groups often have limited knowledge of sexual and reproductive health.

Peer education programmes are a central component of the Green Light Project. And when it comes to peer education, volunteers like Dennis are invaluable. They are trusted in their communities and have an authority which incoming organizations may not be able to command immediately. Most importantly, they often have direct, relevant personal experience.

Dennis says, “I once had a chance to work with some guy in Slovenia. It was a very good salary, but I didn’t trust him so I said no. I learned a lot thanks to the training I’ve done. I’m a lot more careful as a result – and I want to make sure others are too.”