Participant Centered Facilitation (PCF) training conducted in Lilongwe and Kasungu has charged the youth to exercise social inclusion in all assigned social behavior change communication activities aimed at creating demand for youth and community access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and services through community health workers, mobile and static health facilities.

PCF which is an extension of the 2019 training of youth leaders in SRHR and social media advocacy is grounded on increasing interpersonal skills, championing listening sessions, and increasing the reach of people with disabilities in accessing contraception and other SRHR services.

Elizabeth Kanjiwa 23, a trained primary school teacher awaiting government deployment, who is also passionate to promote youth with disabilities access to sexual reproductive health services, said she is not ashamed to come in open to declare that youth with disabilities also require contraception services. “I have a visual impairment, but this does not mean I cannot have sex. I need to be protected from unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections,” added Kanjiwa who attended the training as a Deyoung Cluster youth volunteer in Lilongwe.

Kanjiwa (Pink dress) and friends posing after Malinkha PCF training

Malawi Council for The Handicap (MACOHA) Community Rehabilitation Workers (CRWs) explained that Participant Centered Facilitation training has increased their motivation to continue orienting different youth groups about how to champion social inclusion in their monthly voluntary activities. 

“I should commend the Family Planning Association of Malawi for being the only current organization that is promoting youth access to contraception information and services including youth and other community members living with disabilities. We are not only trained on how to approach people with disabilities but we are also educated on how to improve our mindsets on how we understand and accept people with disabilities in our communities,” said Kondwani Scott, Community Rehabilitation Worker, MACOHA, Lilongwe South.

Secondary school teachers who hosted and participated in the PCF training cited that they are encouraged to engage more health workers to guide in-school adolescents and youth including youth living with disabilities on championing good health pertaining to menstrual hygiene, prevention of pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections. “We do teach them life skills which cover some sexual and reproductive health issues but we need health experts to fully guide and answer all questions that youth raise. We face school dropouts and the PCF training has also helped to understand how to approach and refer youth with disabilities to access integrated SRHR services from health workers,” said Emmie Chakakula Levi, Deputy Head Teacher, Santhe Secondary School, Kasungu district.

Chikakula (Standing): In school learners also need adequate health education

Community Rehabilitation Worker for MACOHA, Lilongwe North Dabison Chunga, explained that “Youth with disabilities have capabilities that are even extraordinary and very competitive. I urge everyone trained in the PCF to link Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) with health workers because they equally have the capacity to engage in sex and contract venereal infections and unintended pregnancies. They are just responsible people, so let’s help them access SRHR/HIV/GBV information and services to promote their good health as well.”

And cementing on the power of peer information flow to influence health service-seeking behavior, the family planning coordinator for Kasundu district hospital Alufeyo Chirwa said “Kasungu is badly hit with teen pregnancies and PCF Training should help youth locate all teenagers who do not have contraception information yet and kindly link them to health workers for comprehensive family planning information and integrated services.” The district youth officer representative for Lilongwe, Siphiwe Chauluka indicated that “I have never been in such open discussion to learn how to engage peers with sexual reproductive health information and referrals for the services. This training should empower us to reach more youth who even at my age, do not know where to access family planning information and services.” The district youth officer for Kasungu, James Mathiya encouraged Kasungu trainees that its high time they started reporting their activities to his office so that he would be making proper recommendations regarding youth skills gaps. “I urge FPAM to do more training programs to equip Kasungu youth with skills to support district development activities,” Mathiya added.

So far FPAM through the WISH2ACTION project featured MACOHA community rehabilitation workers, community health workers, health service providers, and youth volunteers in the Participant Centered Facilitation training where they acquired further demand creation skills to reach more youth and people living with disabilities with contraception information and services.