Connecting local responses around the world
Marlou and I were overwhelmed with joy and enthusiasm when we knew that there were more than 20 friends from three continents joining the first Virtual SALT Visit in the Go Girl project. We visited Babes, an NGO in Singapore working to take care of pregnant youths. We opened the session by sharing through a chat box who we are and the age of our mom when she delivered us. As Marlou said, this is an appreciation of our mothers. I found that participant mothers were 19 - 38 years old when we were delivered. Then, Santhiya Subra, from Babes shared their wonderful work using a picture presentation and video - and it was just awesome!
All of us appreciate and have been inspired by Babes’ work particularly on bringing people from the girl's immediate community together, to support the pregnant young mothers and her baby. As Dolores, a participant from France said that “from your story, I see the value of meeting all the actors (girls, boys, fathers...) to talk about this subject, even if it is taboo. You give them space to discuss in a serene way, and this is very important. Because the subject is very delicate”. Further, Janet from Ghana reflected that the ability to meet the boyfriend in the support system is very encouraging since in Ghana for instance the parents of the girls mostly do not want to come close to the boys or men that impregnated their girls. What do you think can be done about this, she wondered.
This is a quote from Mable's (from Kenya) sharing and reflection: “There is value in the integration and inclusion of parents in the discussions. I think we are globally challenged on the issues of talking about sex in family settings. I am realizing it’s not a one culture issue where we can't discuss this issue. I thought it's only a problem in Africa but I see it's a concern across other cultures too. Also, I think the concern shifts from 'support during and post pregnancy' rather to ‘how can we begin to have these conversations with communities to provide platforms where it is OK to talk to your children about sex and to accompany them as a preventative approach as we deal with the healing process with the girls”.
What I have learned is that Santhiya felt so happy and proud that her work can be shared broader and it’s a kind of mood booster when she and her team found that working was so hard and challenging. Appreciative responses from participants, as she shared on our After Experience Reflection, can be a changer for the team. I also learned that in all cultures and continents talking about sexuality among parents to children is not common practice. Having known that most of the pregnant youth of Babes’ clients are from the less-have families where open discussion among parents hardly took place. Parents are working for the whole day and female teens do not have sufficient support and guardian. For them to access decent life is challenging and even worse when the girls get pregnant. We cannot stop doing the action at the local level and learn from Babes’ amazing work. I was inspired by the way Babes' team dug information from the pregnant teens to identify who were close to her. Once it’s identified, Babes' team went out to reach them and bring them together to see what can be done to support the girls. Also, I’ve been inspired by Meble’s intriguing question to be posed to people: “if you find that a girl is pregnant, what does it mean to you?” I will use this question to open the discussion in the community.
I hope this virtual SALT Visit will be done regularly and a specific theme will be selected as we need to stimulate more strengths and concern to face these issues. From the AER also learned that the introduction and photo session was sooo important too :-) and we will manage it longer.
Terima Kasih Marlou and Santhiya and participants!