News

Highlights From the FRESH Campaign

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Nargis Shirazi, FRESH Campaign (Uganda)

Running the FRESH campaign has been an adventure! It started out with learning how to write proposals, thanks to the C Exchange Youth Initiative. Implementing the program has been an opportunity for me to unlearn, learn, and relearn the best practices in managing the project. I do believe that my best lesson learned is that for a project to succeed, one needs to plan. Not just plan for activities, but also plan and be prepared for any challenges along the way. Teamwork is also essential to the success of a project. The only way a project succeeds is when it has a team on the ground shares the same visions and has well outlined and defined responsibilities.

One of the highlights of my program was the launch. It was launched at a family planning conference put on by the Ministry of Health and Marie Stopes. UNFPA Uganda also played a great role in ensuring we had all we needed to make it a success. The second highlight is the unbelievable number of myths and misconceptions that we collected. I personally had no idea that they were so many and I am looking forward to working on a short film based on these myths in relation to teenage pregnancy. Some of the myths we encountered were:

  • Washing with one’s private parts with coke prevent pregnancy and restore virginity in girls
  • Having sex early or with at least four boys helps girls breasts grow big
  • Having sex in the pool or lake helps prevent pregnancy
  • A boy can only be initiated to teen hood after having sex with an older woman
  • Jumping up and down after sex prevents pregnancy
  • Drinking detergent can help terminate a pregnancy
  • When older men have sex with teenagers, this helps them stay young and fit (reason for cross generational sex on the side of men)
  • The lubrication in condoms causes cancer
  • One cannot wear a condom while breaking a girls virginity because it will tear

There were also some unexpected positive outcomes. We started the FRESH clubs and are hoping and working towards ensuring that these clubs spread in the slum communities of Kampala. I never anticipated this to happen but along the way, it became important not only to have the online discussions but also have the small group meetings.

As I look back, there are quite a number of things I would do differently. One would be to strengthen partnerships. Partnerships are only great when both parties fully share the vision and agree on terms and conditions. If I could rewrite or change the implementation plan, I would include a clause that involves partner roles and expectations. I would also ensure that I have more workmates that are full-time involved in the running of the project. A one man show is a no show because we all have different skill sets and teamwork is a necessity. I would also write a more appropriate budget. We can sometimes be faced with unforeseen costs. That also makes me realize that we need to utilize resources more cautiously. I did not quite understand the importance of a good budget until I started this project. I feel like I could have done better, but one thing is for sure - I have learned a lot from running this project!

I would love to thank Women Deliver and the C Exchange partners for the opportunity not just to initiate my project, but also to learn from it. I would also like to thank my team - the FRESH campaign team of Andrew Ludigo of Street Lights Uganda, my co-founder Dr. William Lubega for all the help with The Medical Concierge Group, Dr. John Bwanika for the Whatsapp pages, Steven Twinomugisha my graphics guru, and all our Twitter and Facebook followers. I would also like to thank the club leadership -Smith, Mark, and Patrick. Thanks goes to UNFPA Uganda, Marie Stopes Uganda, and all the other Street Lights members who turned up for club meetings.

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