An Enlightened Father: Results from the ARH events

HealthBridge, Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) and HealthBridge Vietnam, along with our local partners in Son La province, developed and implemented an adolescent reproductive health (ARH) education program.

Photo by Healthbridge

The program uses peer-to-peer education techniques and interactive events to improve the knowledge and skills of youth and villagers in the community. The events cover key concepts and topics in reproductive health and sexuality, including prevention of early and unwanted pregnancy and early marriage; relationships; the human body and development; problem-solving skills; as well as improved skills for communication and responsible joint decision-making between partners. ARH events include live performances, dramas, games, and songs. Some examples include a dramatization where a young girl is pregnant and forced to leave school; and a game on guessing the name and explain how to use each contraceptive method.

The events take place in several villages of Son La province in both schools and the community. Local youth are trained to conduct health education sessions for their peers, in their schools and villages. They are also involved in the organization, planning, and development of the content for these events. ARH events have attracted great attention and overwhelmingly positive responses from the communities. Before these events, adolescents and villagers had very limited access to reproductive health information on these topics. Below is a letter from a father about his change of heart after learning from his son, a peer educator in the village.

My name is Ca Van Vinh, I am 30 years old and I work at the Commune People’s Committee. My son, Quân, is a well-behaved & handsome boy. He attends ninth grade at the commune’s Junior Secondary School. After he finishes ninth grade, my family and I have planned a marriage for him. It is in our tradition and culture for our children to get married after secondary school. It is customary for children to begin helping the family in the fields and contributing to the family income.

Quân enjoys participating in extracurricular activities. At the beginning of eighth grade, he joined a communication and education group at his school. He conducts sessions on preventing early pregnancy and early parenting for the adolescents in the commune. The students and teachers in the group attended a three-day training in the District. They learned about reproductive health, responsibilities and decision-making and communication strategies.  Last year, they conducted many successful events in the school and the community. 

Today, I took Quân to the village to conduct an education session to the community boys and girls. Many villagers, like myself, enjoy attending these sessions. My son and his peers are great drama performers. Their performances stimulate attention and discussion within the community… I feel bad that many young girls get pregnant and have children very early. They face many barriers to earning a living at such a young age. After what I have learned from my son, I reconsidered his marriage. I will not force my son to get married early.  Quân wants to continue his studies and I see how happy he is helping others. I will encourage him to continue his studies and conduct education sessions at school and in our community. I see that his work is helping to prevent poor health outcomes of our children.

HealthBridge Foundation of Canada is a leading Canadian non-profit organization improving the health of vulnerable populations worldwide. Since 1982, HealthBridge has worked with local partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to bridge gaps in health, including prevention of malnutrition, infectious disease and emerging epidemics.