Greetings, readers! I hope everyone is in fine form this Christmas season!! I am well, currently on a brief stopover in Amsterdam on the way to Kilimanjaro.
I, along with my parents (sister couldn't come as she is an OR doc, but is sorely missed) are enjoying all that the city has to offer before returning me back to my second home (and life's work!) in Moshi. It's cold and rainy here and I am poorly dressed for the weather, having packed for the 85-degree heat of Tanz, but we are managing to survive with the help of some gorgeous museums and sumptuous restaurants.
Not too much more to report at this time except to share this video taken at the Concert Gebouw; to me, there is nothing more iconic nor evocative of the holiday season than the sounds of Handel's Messiah.
Merry, merry and happy, happy!! Next week, I write from Moshi!!
Improvement in social attitudes towards Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) education is crucial in ensuring that young people become capable in applying it and enjoy a healthy and risk-free adult life .... Ms Mushi said that the right to education gives young people access to important information on reproductive health which can guard them against abuse and exploitation .... She said that when this right is denied, the results are lack of knowledge, lack of access to modern contraceptives, decreasing social status, increased sexual harassment of women, and an increase in HIV infections .... Girls in marginalized communities are most discriminated against, in their own homes as well as at educational institutions and health centers .... "The government should give priority to sexual and reproductive education as it is unsafe to have a community which is not conscious of those matters," she added.
The following day, another article ran with the headline "Society Owes Youths Reproductive Health and Rights Education." This time, there was no byline and I noted that the language was more candid and concentrated than the previous day:
Growing up can be very daunting for many
young people not so much in terms of physical growth, but more
that they are ignorant of what is happening to their bodies .... Without accurate and timely
information on sexual and reproductive health, many teenagers
may make decisions that cost them their wellbeing and ruin their futures .... They need to be comfortable with the fact that what they are
going through is normal and that they now have the responsibility of
protecting themselves from harmful sexual practices .... The question here is who is teaching our young people the facts of
growing up? Parents want the schools to do it but fail to agree on how
they should be taught and at what level. The schools claim
they are waiting for guidelines from the authorities concerned while
religious leaders insist on taking the moral high ground of 'thou shall
not preach such matters.' So while this circus carries on, more girls are getting pregnant and
are thrown out of the very same schools that do not want to take
responsibility of teaching them sexual and reproductive health! .... It is time stakeholders got their heads out of the sand and addressed
the problem squarely once and for all because as they run helter-skelter, it is the non-governmental organizations
that come to the rescue .... Young people have a right to access information on reproductive
health yet their society as a whole denies them that right as they refuse to take responsibility. Parents, schools, health
centers and even religious institutions need to wake up to the reality
that young people need the support now and not later. Later is too late.
Finally, more from Hilda on the 12th under the headline "Change of Attitude Crucial for Reproductive Health." (PS: While I know that most of this campaign for SRHR education is for the benefit of older schoolkids, I can't help but feeling like my little ones could also profit from some direct edification about sex and their bodies. If someone had told my little II girl in Msaranga that once you put your chupis on in the morning, you don't take them off until you reach home again, you don't let anyone touch you between your legs, and you don't talk to strange men who call out to you spontaneously from the shamba, maybe then she would still be an innocent .... in every way.)
"We have to improve awareness among youths by creating an enabling
environment for them and advocating SRHR friendly policies in the
education and health sectors," Ms. Mushi explained .... Speaking about family planning services, Ms. Mushi said that health
centers need skilled service providers so that they can provide proper
education and services to youth and women .... She further said that it is also important for sexual reproductive
health education to involve men instead of approaching women only as the
matter is crucial for both genders without exemptions.
So, all the way from the USA, I stand in solidarity with Ms. Mushi and Hilda Mhagama in roaring this out: FIX THIS PROBLEM, TZ! "LATER IS TOO LATE!"