CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF ADOLESCENCE (CSA)

Religious Leaders as Champions for Sexual Health

Elias Njaramba is a young religious leader, and sexual reproductive health champion living in Kiambu. He was introduced to the SAFIRE program by his friend. In his first interaction with the program, he learnt the goal and objectives of the project being spearheaded by the Centre for the Study of Adolescence in Ruiru Kiambu. He mentions the major aim of SAFIRE is reducing cases of unsafe abortion, deaths, and injury among adolescent girls as part of integrated sexual and reproductive health services and reduce stigma around adolescent access and increase uptake of integrated reproductive health. Njaramba narrates some of the issues affecting adolescent girls in his community, that he knew but never had an opportunity to learn how to address at his level. The young leader was particularly concerned with high numbers of school dropouts among adolescent girls, being driven by the increasing cases of early unintended pregnancies, which in his view lack proper information on sexuality is a major contributor to poor sexual health decisions among the young. As a religious leader who has the potential of influencing members of the community, he felt the obligation to bring change and protect the young girls. With knowledge and skills on sharing sexual reproductive health information received from the SAFIRE program in Kiambu, and Njaramba says he has reached nearly 50 adolescence with accurate age appropriate sexuality information supported linkage to service providers. Njaramba indicates that among the girls who have received information on sexuality have exercised better sexual practice and utilized reproductive health services that include the use of pregnancy prevention methods. Elias Njaramba, Youth Religious Leader and SRHR Champion Njaramba indicates that among the girls who have received information on sexuality have exercised better sexual practice and utilized reproductive health services that include use of pregnancy prevention methods. The young religious leader has also managed to create safe spaces for adolescents whereby they meet and discuss their issues, He also provides the same information to some of the parents where they can extend the discussion with the girls on other avenues including home. Njaramba cites SAFIRE as an impactful program with the strategic partnerships between parents, girls, young women, men, religious leaders and service providers, that is addressing the poor reproductive health outcomes in the community. He further encourages religious leaders to become partners in addressing the issues that face adolescent girls in the community. He says religious leaders can organize community forums and invite healthcare workers to share information and provide related services.

 

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