On Friday afternoon in Municipal Lycee of Nyakabiga, Burundi, headmistress Chantal Keza is introducing her students to the medical staff from Association Burundaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ABUBEF).
Peer educators at the school, trained by ABUBEF, will perform a short drama based around sexual health and will answer questions about contraception methods from students. One of the actresses is peer educator Ammande Berlyne Dushime. Ammande, who is 17 years old is one of three peer educators at the school.
Ammande, together with her friends, perform their short drama on the stage based on a young girls quest for information on contraception. It ends on a positive note, with the girl receiving useful and correct information from a peer educator at her school. A story that could be a very real life scenario at her school. Peer programmes that trained Ammande, are under threat of closure due to the Global Gag rule.
The Association Burundaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial's (ABUBEF) provides vital integrated services to local communities, including contraception, prevention and treatment of HIV, youth-friendly counselling and education, pre-marital counselling, and antenatal and post-natal care.
ABUBEF has 18 service points, including static and mobile clinics, and community-based services. An estimated 80% of its clients are poor, marginalized, socially excluded and/or under-served. ABUBEF supports young people living with HIV, internally displaced persons, sex workers, drug users and street children.
The continuation of many of these vital health services are under threat following the reintroduction of the Global Gag Rule by the US Administration. The Global Gag Rule, or Mexico City Policy as it is formally known, stops US aid to all health programmes run by organisations who perform or counsel on abortion.
ABUBEF says: “Almost all contraceptives, HIV reagents, STI drugs, antiretroviral and consumables for HIV management are procured through UNFPA, USAID and US-financed government programmes, which will be affected by the Global Gag Rule.”
Comprehensive Sex Education
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Association Burundaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial
“I am afraid what will happen when there will be no more projects like this one. I am ready to go on with work as peer educator, but if there are not going to be regular visits by the medical stuff from the clinic, then we will have no one to seek information and advice from. I am just a teenager, I know so little. Not only I will lose my support, but also I will not be taken serious by my schoolmates. With such important topic like sexual education and contraception, I am not the authority. I can only show the right way to go. And this road leads to ABUBEF.”
She says “As peer educator I am responsible for Saturday morning meetings at the clinic. We sing songs, play games, have fun and learn new things about sex education, contraception, HIV protection and others. Visiting the clinic is then very easy, and no student has to be afraid, that showing up at the clinic that treats HIV positive people, will ruin their reputation. Now they know that we can meet there openly, and undercover of these meetings seek for help, information, professional advice and contraception methods”
Peer educator classes are a safe and open place for students to openly talk about their sexual health. The Global Gage Rule will force peer educator programmes like this to close due to lack of funding.
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Learn more about the Global Gag Rule