We were organizing young people as Peer Educators in urban poor communities in Metro Manila as part of the PRRM HIV/AIDS Prevention Project. At some point, we wanted to measure how far they have achieved in terms of peer education work. The challenge was to create an assessment tool that would be highly appropriate among gang members, young girls, young MSMs and sex workers. It was agreed that the tool would be self-defined, meaning the indicators for progress would come from our young partners.
With the help of volunteer Peer Educators, we conducted a participatory discussion to redefine the Self-Assessment Matrix. The discussion followed the methodology of ACP and took roughly three weeks to complete.
The result was a matrix using culturally-sensitive language. For instance,the group of sex workers described Level 1 as Lobat ako (low energy) while the out-of-school young girls described Level 5 as I am a Supermodel! The indicators also include both behavioral and value indicators - Hindi ako susuko! Handa ako tumulong. (I won’t give up! I am prepared to help). Some indicators were even expressions of spiritual beliefs. It was a discovery of their positive outlook and offers a glimpse of their humanity as a whole.
The matrix is still in the process of refinement yet it shows promise, especially now that the peer educators have promised to continue their work on HIV prevention with the formation of a youth organization. It will be a perfect venue to practice SALT. I am certain that our young people, with their strengths and enthusiasm, will one day say, "I am a Supermodel!"