For 5 years, I have led a team of dynamic young people under Reach A Hand, Uganda (RAHU), an organization I founded in 2010 to empower fellow young people through diversified youth empowerment programs with emphasis on sexual reproductive health and rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. Through RAHU, we have embarked on different family planning advocacy campaigns for example community and school outreaches, peer learning sessions and intergenerational dialogues where we have used innovative sensitization strategies for example social media platforms, street casts, music, dance and drama. To date, through RAHU, we have directly reached over 210,256 males &346,125 females within schools, carried out over 5000 Focused Group Discussions & reached out to over 800,881 youth out of school.
Family planning remains a topic no one seems to be interested in talking about. Uganda has over 78% of its population being youth below the age of 24 years. This makes it the youth capital of the world. This makes it extremely defenseless to unintended pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, early marriages, and sexually transmitted infections. Therefore, I founded RAHU as a platform to pause and reflect on the family planning effects of such a youthful population by analyzing problems and providing solutions
I have faced a challenge of communicating with young people whose general knowledge about family planning in Uganda is terribly low. This limited understanding of sexual health and rights among youth is a major obstacle that restricts them to understand and finally access contraception and other family planning services. However, ever since we started the peer learning sessions under the RAHU Peer Educators Academy which runs every year with about 50 peer educators, trends are greatly changing.
Lack of awareness and access to effective methods of contraception and family planning is the greatest challenge in Uganda. It is such lack of access that leads to early marriages and childbearing, unintended pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and other consequences thereby impacting the health of women and girls through fistula and childbirth complications, indirectly affecting that of children and young people in general. Realizing access to youth friendly services is the solution.
In the next five years, I want is to create a movement of over 5000 informed young people not only in Uganda but also East Africa. Five years from now still, I would love to look at the young people that I have mentored at RAHU empowered, healthy adults who are making informed family planning decisions. I would love to see them having networks of thriving youth-led community based organisations doing the same work like us, creating impact in the communities we cannot reach as Reach A Hand, Ugand