October 2023, Juba in South Sudan. Silvia Poni Philip stands near the HI offices in the country's capital. | © S. Body / HI
Thanks to HI and to the WISH project in South Sudan, Silvia has the resources she needs to understand her sexual and reproductive health.
Silvia Poni Philip, a 23-year-old student, lives on the island of Moneyit. Silvia, who is with hearing impairment, recently took part in activities organised by the WISH project teams. For this young woman with a disability, a lack of accessible information in her community had made it difficult for her to learn about sexual and reproductive health.
The WISH (Women's Integrated Sexual Health) project was developed by the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) in the UK, and then rolled out in several countries by a consortium of NGOs, including HI. The project is intended to strengthen support for integrated sexual and reproductive health and rights services in African and Asian countries. It is currently being implemented in 26 countries.
In South Sudan, the main objectives of the project teams are to strengthen family planning services for women with disabilities and young women, and to increase awareness among these women through activities engaging the community. The WISH teams South Sudan are training local health staff to promote sexual and reproductive health among all members of the community.
These activities can be as simple as facilitating dialogue. Silvia really enjoyed talking to the teams; she found it very instructive. She learned how to manage her emotions and understand the mechanisms of pregnancy prevention. Silvia is happy for herself, but she is also happy to be able to help and advise her friends.
Before the WISH project was deployed in South Sudan, Silvia had no access to resources on the subject of sexual and reproductive health and no knowledge of pregnancy prevention methods. She only knew what her mother had taught her: traditional reproduction. Today, she knows where to find information and who to turn to for help.
"I've learnt a lot about reproductive health. [...] I feel safe from the worry of getting pregnant before I've finished my studies."
In her community, it is very difficult to talk about sexuality, even more so when you're a young woman with a disability. Sexuality is considered a taboo subject and young people don't feel comfortable discussing it with their elders. Moreover, the lack of documentary resources makes access to information even more difficult. Silvia tells us that this is why that she wants to continue learning from the WISH teams.
Silvia has learnt a lot from the programme. She now knows what it means to be of childbearing age and is even proposing ways of promoting the project among a wider public, starting with her village. She would like her whole community to be informed about sexual health issues. She also suggests sending messages in different formats, such as sign language, audio and Braille, in order to reach everyone, including people with disabilities.
She has one last message for the women of her community:
“All women should be very careful, especially when they are of child-bearing age.”
|The WISH project, funded by the FCDO and led by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), is based on a comprehensive and integrated approach to family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights. WISH prioritises the most underserved women and girls, particularly those under 20, the very poor and marginalized populations. HI is an implementing partner of the WISH2ACTION project and is responsible for the inclusion of people with disabilities in six of the project's 16 implementing countries (Uganda, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Madagascar). Since 2018, 5,678 people have been informed about access to health information and services; 400,000 people have benefited from key messages through radio broadcasts; 356 health service providers have been trained in inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights services; 279 members of Organisations of People with Disabilities have been trained in sexual and reproductive health and rights services; 325 copies of inclusive materials have been produced and disseminated in OPDs and health facilities, and jingles have been broadcast on several radio stations.|