In November 2013, Faith to Action Network carried out a training for religious leaders and faith organisations within Faith to Action Network Members to build the capacity and skills of faith & religious leaders to provide information and knowledge on SRHR to young people. We are happy to present an inspiring story from a participant from our training in Ethiopia, Prince Abugri Akebo, Project Manager-Health, Association of Church-based Development NGOs (ACDEP) attributes the training to be a major determinant of his successful application for his Master of Public Health(MPH)-SRHR to Royal Tropical Institute, in Amsterdam.
Prince Abugri Akebo presenting at SRHR workshop, 6-11 November 2012, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Before the training, reaching out to adolescents in rural communities especially in Muslim dominated communities was a major challenge for me. I was responsible for the adolescent health project in ACDEP since 2012, but all this while, the number of adolescents reached in especially Muslim communities was not more than 50%. This was because parents prevented their wards from taking part in adolescent activities because of misconceptions throughout the community that strangers (development workers) have come to spoil their children by teaching sex education and other issues bordering on reproductive health. This was a challenge and we used several strategies including opinion leaders, school teachers and even discussions with some parents we perceived as difficult. Religious leaders were not in the picture because we felt they had no role to play in this.
However, after the training workshop in Addis Ababa, I decided to give it a try by engaging religious leaders in all communities this project was being implemented.