Teaching safe sex and first aid – peer to peer in Tanzania

Publié: 28 octobre 2013 9:45 CET

By Rebecca Lefort, British Red Cross

Rose Titus is 16-years-old and an expert when it comes to sex. As a peer educator with the Tanzania Red Cross Society, the youngster gets asked all sorts of inquisitive questions from her fellow teenagers as she teaches them about the dangers of HIV and how to prevent unwanted pregnancies. “I teach them how to use condoms during sexual intercourse,” said Rose, a pupil at Mwisenge Secondary School in Musoma, northern Tanzania, who dreams of becoming a doctor. “It can get embarrassing sometimes, but I like to educate people in my country about how to take care from different diseases so they can protect themselves. People believe me because I talk about the reality and I know the problems they face in their daily lives. It doesn’t matter that I’m young. They listen because they respect me.”

Musoma has an HIV rate of seven per cent, the fourth highest in the country, and like many young people in this area Rose is frightened of contracting the virus. But she feels the knowledge she has gained as a peer educator has helped protect her. “I’m proud to be a peer educator, it makes me feel confident,” she said.

Godfrey Christopher, 19, a peer educator from Bunda, also in the northern Mara region of Tanzania, said it was important to get through any feelings of embarrassment to have an effect. “The Red Cross has been very helpful for me. At first I didn’t understand how people got HIV and due to the knowledge I’ve gained, I now know how to stay safe,” he said. “When we show them how to use condoms some of the students laugh. Then I have to tell them that I’m not joking, and it is serious.”

It is not just safe sex that is taught in the peer education sessions, which are normally held once a week. First aid is a vital life lesson which is also shared. “My skills helped me save a life once,” said Abili Lexon Magoriny, a 20-year-old peer educator at Rubana Secondary School. “Someone had been hit by an iron ball in a game at school. I rushed over and found that he had head wounds and a bloody nose. I managed to stop the bleeding by applying pressure and he was able to get to hospital. I think it was a good advertisement for the Red Cross group in the school. I told people that if they come to the first aid lessons they too could save lives.”