Silence is Deadly is a campaign under the Voices for Health project funded by Planned Parenthood Global (PPG). It aims to change the perspective of the public on the youth’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services. The national campaign also encourages the youth to speak out on the challenges they face thus breaking down barriers such stigma towards SRHR. Following a successful launch at Serena Hotel in Kampala, Forum for Women in Democracy, alongside our partner Reach A Hand Uganda (RAHU), launched Silence is Deadly in one of our district of operation, Busia.
Prior to the launch, a community dialogue was held at Buchicha Primary school. In attendance were Local Councilors, the Mayor, teachers, community members, students, VBCs and Uganda Red Cross Society. The participants were asked to identify issues that affect their sexual reproductive health and some of the issues mentioned included peer pressure, poverty as well as cultural and religious norms. The discussion was an eye-opener for many of the adults in attendance who saw the negative role they play in deterring the youth from speaking up about SRH.
The main launch on June 1st began at 2:00pm and attracted approximately 300 people. Guests included students, the media, medical workers and representatives from NGOs such as Straight Talk and YES. Many activities such as blood donation, cancer screening, HIV testing and demonstrations on how to use condoms were held to benefit those in attendance. There was also an opportunity to support youth businesses by buying liquid soap, groundnut paste and millet flour produced by the youth in order to generate income.
Tony Wabwire, District Health Inspector, spoke on the important role parents have to play in encouraging the youth to break the silence and speak up. This was followed by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Hussein Kato Matonda who emphasized that “it is our duty to prepare young people for the responsibility to take care of the country and for this task to be done we need healthy youth.” The RDC further asked the organizers to arrange a meeting where he can speak to leaders as it is time to have a holistic discussion to find solutions to challenges that the youth face in regard to SRH. He explained that silence roots in cultural norms and in order for the youth to speak out, the causes of silence should first be addressed. Lastly, the RDC pledged support to break down the silence.
To conclude the event, a drama from students of St. John’s Secondary School showed the consequences of not speaking out on SRH. Overall, the regional Silence is Deadly launch in Busia was a success as we were able to raise awareness on SRHR.
Written by Elizabeth Karungi