From YPISA Champion To Child MP – Martha Chivanga
Martha Chivanga, from Ngundu High School in Chivi District, started out as a Young People’s Information Service Advocacy (YPISA) champion and eventually emerged as child MP for Chivi District. The knowledge and skills she gained on sexual and reproductive health issues from the YPISA training have given her the confidence to eagerly grab opportunities as they arise. Now, as a child MP she is able to represent her peers at both national level and in her school.
The YPISA programme
The YPISA programme has impacted positively on the health and wellbeing of adolescents in five schools in Chivi District, through SAfAIDS partner, BHASO. It empowers adolescents on their sexual reproductive health and rights through radio listening clubs, one-on-one sessions and referral networks. Ten YPISA champions from each of the five selected schools, were trained.
Martha a pacesetter for her peers
Ngundu High School is near Ngundu growth point where one of the country’s busiest roads connects Zimbabwe with South Africa, Zambia and the DRC. This makes it a meeting point for people from many backgrounds and beliefs and this mixing pot increases the likelihood of unsafe sex practices.
Without parental guidance and protection, school students who rent apartments at the business centre because their homes are far away, often fall prey to sexual violence and inappropriate relationships.
In response to these challenges, Martha has formed a girls’ club specifically for form 2 girls, called Justice for Children. Every year, this age group had the highest number of school dropouts because of early pregnancies.
“I soon realised that information is power. All they needed was someone to teach them about sexual health issues, including managing relationships,’’ says Martha.
‘’Recently, one of the students was sexually abused because she was staying alone, renting a room at a house occupied by young men. It was a serious issue and YPISA champions – supported by the headmaster – held an awareness campaign to empower the girls in staying safe. With the headmaster’s help, we eventually arranged safe houses for female students to rent. Girl child empowerment can curtail the risks of early pregnancy, child marriage and school dropouts,’’ she notes.
“The YPISA programme has helped so many students realise their positive sexual reproductive health and rights”. Martha applauds SAfAIDS and BHASO for coming up with such a great programme, which has given hope to many adolescents at her school and in her community.