U.S. Embassy Visits a Sexual Reproductive Health Workshop

October 14th, 2016 by | Tags: , , | No Comments »

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Me shaking Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew Smith’s hand and welcoming him to the the Sexual Reproductive Health workshop. Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Yaounde

Last month, Peace Corps Cameroon’s Country Director Mark and Deputy Director Lindsey visited my home to tell me that Deputy Chief of Missions Matthew Smith and his team from the U.S. Embassy would like to visit my site and see my work as part of the U.S. Embassy’s Peace Corps day, which meant that day would be all about seeing Peace Corps’ volunteers’ work. On this day, they would be visiting a training for volunteers, one of my postmates and me.

Two weeks later, DCM Smith, Public Affairs Officer Robert Quiroz and their team came to Bali, a village located about 20 minutes south of Bamenda, to see my workshop on Sexual Reproductive Health for persons with disabilities.  The U.S. Embassy team came in two large SUVs, along with a police escorting them on a motorcycle, and Peace Corps Deputy Director Lindsey also came.  Ruth and I both welcomed them to the workshop with handshakes and hugs.

All of my work partners, including Ruth, Samuel, Veronica, the program officer for Coordinating Unit of Association for Persons with Disabilities, Regina, sign language interpreter and advocate for the deaf, and also Hilda, came to be part of the workshop.  While I presented in Grammar English, the president of the Bali disability group translated the presentation to Pidgin English.  Regina also interpreted for a deaf participant.

38 persons with disabilities attended the workshop.  There were a few children there.  We didn’t ask children to come but the parents likely made the choice to send them to the workshop. Because the workshop took place at 1 PM in the afternoon, my team and I assumed that these children who have disabilities are not in school like most children with disabilities in Cameroon.

At the end of the presentation, we opened up to questions for participants and we received very interesting questions and comments which included:

“Is there an expiration on the condoms?”

“Can women become more fertile after taking and stopping the birth control pill?”

“Men will feel hurt if women say “no” to sex.”

I certainly clarified to the man who talked about men feeling hurt about women saying “no” to sex.  I explained to him that if a woman says “no,” she still has every right to say “no,” and he needs to be patient and wait until she is ready to have sex.

We conducted the pre- and post-tests.  On the pre-test, 14 people scored 70% or better. On post-test, 19 people scored 70% or better. On the pre-test, no one scored 100% but one scored 92%. On the post-test, two scored 100% including the person who had scored 92%. On the pre-test, everyone except for one scored below 80%. On the post-test, nine scored 80% or better.

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Me demonstrating family planning and explaining to them the impact of family planning through using bread. Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Yaounde

After the workshop, the mayor of Bali gave a short talk thanking the persons with disabilities for being present.  She also thanked the U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps for coming.  Ruth and Samuel also expressed gratitude to the disability group and the U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps.  The president of the disability group showed great excitement as he snapped pictures with his phone throughout the presentation.  The U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps’ visit gave them a good insight of what a disability community looks like in Cameroon.

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Left to Right: Regina, Samuel, Lindsey, Deputy Chief of Mission Smith, Veronica, Ruth, Hilda and Rachel. Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Yaounde

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