“I look up to Jacky because she’s the first person who talked to me about reproductive health”

We have a lot of fun together. Jacky is helping me study for my national exams and she’s teaching me to save. I love how she looks out for me –all of this makes her a great role model.” Frida is 15-years-old and is a grade 6 student from the Kayonza district. While many people choose role models based on their jobs and experiences, Frida regards Jacky, a trusted neighbour and friend, as the person she looks up to the most.

FRIDA: Jacky, you’re a great friend to me and I love you so much. Let me introduce you to everyone reading: Jacky is 23 and is a student at a university in Kayonza. I’m so happy to have the chance to chat with you today, Jacky. Not just as my friend but as my role model.

JACKY (laughing): Really? I didn’t know that. I’m curious to know why you picked me as your role model.

FRIDA: I love the advice you give me and my friends. You’re comfortable talking to us and hanging out with us and you never make a big deal out of the fact that you’re older than we are. For instance, you were the one who taught me about reproductive health and saving.

JACKY: Thanks so much for saying that – that’s so touching. Is there something you want me to tell you that you don’t know about?

FRIDA: Yes, a lot. How did you get the confidence to talk to people no matter who they are?

JACKY: I took some classes about girls’ health. Once I felt I had information I could share with others, I started talking with girls my own age and went from there.

FRIDA: I want to be able to talk to different kinds of people without feeling nervous, just like you do. How should I start?

JACKY: Frida, don’t worry – you’re already on your way! The fact that you know the kind of person you want to be in the future is an important first step. Next, you need to learn the best way to act in front of different kinds of people so you can approach them. This goes hand-in-hand with developing your social skills so you can talk to people with confidence. Finally, you have to work hard at school so you can have a solid base of knowledge to share with others.

FRIDA: Is that the reason why you make such an effort to show that we’re equals when you hang out with us?

JACKY: Of course. And as a matter of fact, I’m not really that much older than you. We’re friends so of course we have fun hanging out together.

FRIDA: I have a couple of other questions for you about your childhood.

JACKY (laughing): Go for it!

FRIDA: What was something you wanted to know more about when you were my age?

JACKY: I had heard older girls talking about getting their periods, and I always wondered what that meant. I wanted to grow up so I could understand what that experience was like.

FRIDA: How did you feel when it finally happened?

JACKY: I was very scared when I had my first period. I had no idea what was happening to me and where the stains on my clothes came from. At the time, I was only 14 and nobody had spoken to me about it. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to go to school anymore. Some of my classmates had already started menstruating and, when they realised what was going on with me, they explained everything and told me what I needed to do. I was relieved and managed to go back to class.

FRIDA: What was the happiest moment of your life when you were my age?

JACKY: Do you know what? The happiest memory I have from that time is when I participated in a dance contest. I was part of a traditional dance group and I performed really well –my group won a trophy. I was overjoyed.

FRIDA: Thank you so much, Jacky. I’m so glad we had the chance to speak. I love how much you care about me. It’s great having my role model be my neighbour and my friend because I feel so comfortable speaking with you. From now on, I’m going to come to you for any advice I need and questions I have. If that’s okay with you, of course!

JACKY: Oh! I love you too. That’s why I spend so much time talking to you! Feel free to ask me anything, anytime. I’m touched that you chose me as your role model.

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