If you had asked me five years ago if I would be comfortable teaching Sex-Ed to a group of adolescents I would have immediately responded, no. Now, almost two years into my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I am a competent sexual health education teacher. I am currently working alongside a non-government organization, “Casa de Joven” promoting sexual and reproductive rights. Throughout the months of October and November, we have been actively involved in promoting these rights in the community in which I live.
In most rural communities of Nicaragua, women do not discuss sexual health nor are they aware of the rights that protect them. For this very reason, there are organizations such as Casa de Joven and Peace Corps which have direct access to the information needed to promote these sensitive topics. I started integrating myself into the local public schools by working side by side with the school guidance counselor giving a series of four lectures in each classroom. Topics include Sexuality, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s), HIVaids and Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Amongst these topics we always include self-esteem and family violence as part of each lecture.
As for those who do not attend classes regularly, Casa de Joven and I are promoting these topics in all rural health posts throughout my community. We have a goal to reach 36 lectures in the waiting areas of health posts, health center and the Casa Materna (Birthing Home). Although this project is time consuming and it is hard to measure the results of each lecture I give, I know these topics need to be taught in order to better the health of the country.
I particularly enjoy clarifying the myths that many Nicaraguans have about sexual health. Many think using two condoms is better than using one, and some that masturbation causes mental illness or eating food such as eggs and beans is harmful when a woman has her period. These legends have been passed down from generation to generation and due to this they are preventing themselves from living a life of optimal physical and mental health. Also, many grown man and women have never used or seen a condom or any form of birth control causing adolescent pregnancy and economic stress.
I have truly enjoyed every lecture I have given on sexual and reproductive health. Educating today’s youth is extremely important for tomorrow’s future. I think I may have found a sincere passion for sexual health education and I have my Peace Corps experience to thank for that!