Young leaders re-visit system functions
Day 3 of the week-long STOP HIV Peer Leaders Training in Port Vila, saw participants re-visit the various functions of the reproductive, respiratory and skeletal systems. The illustrations were explicit, as were the explanations on the role of each part of the body. Anyone would have thought that all the participants were students of some medical institution!
Many of the participants were in awe of the knowledge that each other possessed in relation to the functions of the 3 systems. Peer to peer learning was definitely in progress here.
The presentation on the skeletal system drew much interest as participants discovered its 6 functions. These are to 1) support; 2) protect; 3) assist in movement; 4) store minerals; 5) produce blood cells and 6) store chemical energy. The reproductive system served as an entry point into sensitizing the participants on the male and female private parts, given the focus of the training. Participants were invited to write and read out words used locally to describe these parts and the act of sex. Most of the words used to describe these organs and sexual activities of sorts were derogatory, perceived as dirty and filthy. A conscious awareness was drawn to the negated nature of discussing topics in any way related to sexual activities. Lead facilitator, Margaret Eastgate, challenged the participants to think up strategies to address this, in an effort to encourage 'healthier' behavior related to sexual activities and to promote the free and open discussion around what is considered a taboo topic. It is believed that this is one effective strategy to reduce stigma and discrimination and promote positive behavioral change.
Participants realized the power of words and how it could either have a positive or negative impact on people's behaviors.