Kathryn Ramwaka – Championing Against SGBV with OAYouth Kenya
CHAMPIONING OUR FEARS.
At a very young age, I was in a constant dilemma because of how people treated me in life, something I didn’t decipher, and, how people regarded sexual health as a taboo topic. This made me have passion in guiding my peers on life choices and sexual health issues.
The pinnacle of my passion to serve young girls spiked four years ago, after joining campus, where I was elected female students’ representative. Sexual health is not an easy topic to discuss, it is entrenched as an unspoken topic in my community and thus making it a heavy burden for many young women. I have witnessed many girls make wrong choices because they were not empowered on the issues of SGBV and sexual health and, they are also afraid to ask because of the stigma that comes with it.
I formed a small team on campus which aimed at improving sexual reproductive health in our community and created safe spaces where victims could report any form of gender based violence. My greatest achievement was collection of resources and mobilization of the community to donate sanitary towels to aid girls who couldn’t afford. This was at first challenging but I managed at last.. We innovated reusable sanitary towels from sterilized old clothes which aimed at creating sustainability.
The following year, I volunteered at Youth health organization Kenya, where I was able to interact with a lot of young people and listen to their opinion and their knowledge on sexual reproductive rights. I became more cognisant of what was happening behind closed doors after listening to them and realized how ignorant they were on the SGBV rights.
The knowledge and experience I acquired during the volunteering period motivated me to grow my team to 40 young ladies. We arranged for a meeting with the director of IPAS African Alliance, a bastion in reproductive health rights, and fter careful deliberations, we were efficiently trained to become community peer educators. Finally we set out to our communities, talking to young women in barazas about their reproductive health rights.
We also created a website called ‘Nimechanuka’ , a Kenyan slang for ‘informed, ’ and an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data prompt. The website was able to connect the community with the nearby, safe and affordable Sexual Reproductive Health providers. In addition to this, I came up with a toll free sexual gender based violence hotline for my community.
We are still continuing with the community sensitization and outreach where more than 400 women have accessed the sexual health SGBV services. I am happy that I have made life easier for women in my family and community and that they wouldn’t drown in their dilemmas or fail to report any issue on sexual gender based violence.