Accessibility to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through the office, delivery service, or in schools.
For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.
“One of my first experiences providing comprehensive sex education with FPA was at the EPB School, during my education as a social worker. Many years later I still very much enjoy this”, says Richenella, FPA’s Finance and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) support staff.
FPA’s client is at the heart of its healthcare provision. The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student, as well as efficiency for the team being familiar with specific students and cases. They are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.
“The consultations are always fun; you get a change of scenery by stepping out of the office. Over the years you see so many faces and still somehow you manage to remember most of them. After just a few visits you can start to build a profile of most students; you can start to tell who the class clown is, the Mister Popular, the shy one, the loud one, and the one who just wants to take his time to avoid going back to class”, Richenella laughs.
Working in partnership with the school social worker
FPA places great value on the 14-year relationship they have with Adriana, the social worker at EPB San Nicolas School. Adriana is the person who has the most contact with the students, and the one most student’s turn to when they need help.
“Most of the time you get to have fun with the students, however every now and then you will come across a heartbreaking case. Since Aruba has so many different migrants, very often you will come across one person who is not insured at the moment, who needs products and can’t afford it – and you figure out a way to help”, Adriana says.
For registered youth under 21 years of age, the costs of the healthcare provision are covered by the national health insurance, however, some students fall outside of the system.
“For our second, third and fourth-year students, FPA has been collaborating with us to provide a monthly session where the students receive contraceptives and guidance on school grounds. Since around this age, most of our students are already sexually active, we try to help them stay safe in and out of school.”
“The love, patience, and dedication that FPA has shown our students over the years are outstanding. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis we had to stop the consultation hours, but thankfully we are now back at it, bigger and better. Due to the collaboration with FPA we were able to finish out our 2018-2019 school year with no new pregnancies, which was a first for our school. We hope to accomplish this again, now that we can continue our consultations, and keep our kids educated and in school for as long as we can so they can achieve the best possible future”, Adriana says.