YOUR LIFE IN YOUR HANDS

    By line: Pascaline Icyizere

    When she was young, Rosette struggled to find information about sexual and reproductive health. She felt ashamed that her breasts were different from her friends’ and some bullied her. With the support of her father and after attending a training on sexual and reproductive health, she learnt that we are all unique. Rosette, now 33, wants Ni Nyampingas to know how to find important information about our health and wellbeing.

    To you my young sisters,

    Did you know that when a girl is informed about sexual and reproductive health, she can live a happy and purposeful life? Are you informed? If not, don’t worry, now is the time. When I was young, I was skinny. I didn’t have breasts and got my first period after all my friends. My classmates once told me I looked like a boy, and even said that I might not have children! It made me sad and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my thoughts with my friends.

    I tried to find information, but those I asked thought it was taboo to discuss such issues with a kid. I once asked a teacher where babies come from and was told to ask my mother. When I asked her, she said that a baby comes from the navel. And I grew up believing it!

    When I reached Senior Two, a neighbour my age got pregnant. I wanted to know how she got pregnant, but when I asked my father, he couldn’t respond because he didn’t know that much. He worried that I too could get pregnant.

    There was a TV show about sexual and reproductive health, and my father called me and my siblings to watch it. It helped me to understand that I hadn’t yet grown breasts or didn’t have my period because puberty differs for everyone.

    In university, I attended workshops on sexual and reproductive health and shared my knowledge with other girls too. It’s your right to get answers about any concerns you have so stand up and seek information. You might ask your parents today and not get answers, but if you keep asking, you will eventually. Your parents or guardian may not know the answer but they can direct you to someone who does.

    Having trusted information gives you a better perspective on life and helps you make good decisions. It means you can take good care of your body like when you get your period. It helps you to think carefully about whether you’re ready for a relationship, and means you’re better prepared to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy, HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.

    To you my little sister, knowing about your sexual and reproductive health is essential. Having the right information is the key to developing a mature perspective of your life today and in the future. From Rosette, who wishes you to live a happy and meaningful life!