Family planning and reproductive health taught by "Together for Health" in Ukraine
Inspired to change this situation, in 2007 Svitlana received a grant from Together for Health (TFH) and joined TFH’s training-of-trainer’s program. There Svitlana and other TFH-supported colleagues learned how to provide FP/RH-focused information to adolescents in Ukraine’s Vinnytsya region, with the objective of helping youth make healthier, more informed reproductive and family planning choices.
The organization began reaching youth ranging in age from early teens through university. Signaling both their effectiveness and the huge demand for information in the community, IEC VIS volunteers quickly became the “go-to” source for reproductive health information and contraceptive resources.
Svitlana was inspired by how, over time, attitudes of youth in the region shifted as they began to use the information they received. Thinking back, Svitlana said, “The real inspiration was the change in the youth. Social attitudes about abortion were changing before our eyes. When a boy told his girlfriend that contraceptives were unnecessary because she could always get an abortion, the look of shock in the eyes of the youth surrounding him was evidence of changing attitudes. Perhaps results weren’t instant, but when they came, they were really inspiring. People began to see that they did have options when it came to family planning and their reproductive health.”
Recently, USAID held a community fair in the region for all USAID-supported projects and others working in the oblast to celebrate National Contraceptives Day 2014. Despite having no direct USAID funding, IEC VIS organized over 150 volunteers for the event, who gave out information and provided free FP/RH counseling throughout the city.
At the event, USAID representatives saw IEC VIS volunteers wearing “Future Worth Planning” t-shirts and asked them about their work. IEC VIS members said their NGO was originally trained by USAID’s TFH project (and they now collaborate on technical issues with the TFH successor project, the USAID-funded Healthy Women of Ukraine Program). They said IEC VIS is so committed to its mission that the NGO now raises its own funds to continue implementing FP/RH health activities.
Today, Svitlana is hopeful that IEC VIS will be able to build off the ongoing momentum for change in Ukraine, though she acknowledges new challenges. “With the current political situation, it is of course a great time for affecting change. However, we also have many displaced people, students, and families. This is an important demographic that we must target–explaining responsible behavior and attempting to lower high-risk actions of youth. We cannot let our prior work take a step back, we must continue to be proactive.”
|Related Project: Ukraine - Healthy Women of Ukraine Program (2011-2016)|