Kigali

Brigitte Learns to say a strong No

Author: Rutayisire Patience
On:21/07/2020 13:12
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Speak out project is an initiative that establishes safe space where girls meet with peer mentors and share freely their experiences and training on violence and building self –confidence. You will be impressed with Brigitte’s journey to self-esteem and confidence.

Brigitte is a student at Kavumu Catholic primary school in Primary Six, and she is fifteen years old. She lives in Kibinja Cell, Busasamana Sector, in Nyanza District with her mother and her niece. Her father divorced her mother when Brigitte was young. She is her father’s fourth born and her mother’s third born. Her mother provides her school materials. When Brigitte is at home, she helps her mother with household chores.

In Brigitte’s community, girls in both school and out of school fear to share discussion regarding menstruation periods, although they do have to undergo the experience as a stage of body development. It is also considered as a taboo for most parents to hold discussions about sexual and reproductive health with their children. Even though Brigitte’s mother looked ways to train her on using sanitary pads, but still she was very shy to get involved in such discussions with other girls.

“My mother always advised me to keep away from boys when I started menstruating period and she told me that when I have sex at that stage, I could easily get pregnant,” Brigitte revealed.

Through Speak Out Project funded by UK Aid, ActionAid Rwanda established safe spaces where girls meet with peer mentors and share freely their experiences and opinions on violence in an attempt to build self -confidence. Brigitte is among the girls who are trained in the safe space and discussions shared are so many, but she appreciates to have improved in self- confidence and self-esteem in terms of sharing her mind in her safe space.

“I feel comfortable telling my mentor or facilitator that I am in menstruation period. Changing pads has become so easily because I go to the girls’ room and get the sanitary pad to change when I am still at school,” Brigitte added.

 ActionAid Rwanda constructed a girls’ room at Brigitte’s school and through Speak Out project, the room is equipped with sanitary pads, soap and water. There is also a bed and when a girl feels pain during menstruation, she goes there and have a rest.

“We learnt different forms of violence which I did not know about before. The way we share discussions in school clubs is quite amazing. We are all given chance to share our opinions and speak in our national language,” Brigitte further said.

“My mentor advises me a lot and keeps what I share with her as a secret. She is a nice person and helps me a lot. From the sessions on violence, we were taught to say a strong No and report all incidences of violence that might happen to us or to other people. We were taught that even touching on our body parts is violence, so no body just touches me anyhow. I have learnt to avoid situations that can lead me to sexual violence,” Brigitte disclosed.

Brigitte continued to reveal that in the safe space, they are also trained on making friends through cycles of friendship and now she has got a friend in whom she trusts, and her name is Seraphina. 

Seraphina is Brigitte’s classmate in primary 6. The safe space initiative has a set of life skills on leadership, building confidence and financial literacy and this has brought about lots of transformation of schoolgirls.

Brigitte shared a story about a man who burned his son’s fingers when he had stolen food. People in the household sought help from police and the father was imprisoned although he was released after he felt remorseful and asked for forgiveness. She therefore requests parents not to give severe punishments when a child has made a mistake.

About Speak out Project

Speak Out Project is implemented by ActionAid Rwanda in partnership with Faith Victory Association and Rwanda Girl Guides Association, with funding from the UK Aid.The club facilitator is a teacher who voluntarily delivers sessions on GBV and SRHR in school clubs. School clubs are made of girls and boys.



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Rutayisire Patience

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