Walking through the WAR office, I am directed to an office within the administration block. As I enter the door, I am warmly greeted by Ariane, Alana, and Eva – volunteers on the Student’s Against Rape (SAR) project. For this project, the SAR team goes into schools on a weekly basis to open dialogues with the kids on issues related to adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights (ASRH&R), gender based violence, and help foster general life skills.
There are markers spread out on the table and paper is draped across chairs. “Right now, we’re working on a new project called ‘Keeping Girls in School,’” Ariane says. This initiative aims to provide sanitary pads to girls throughout Maun. “This is an issue that we’ve picked out,” Alana states, “it keeps girls from maintaining regular attendance in schools.”
To address this issue, the team has collected six boxes and aims to place them throughout Maun – giving the community an opportunity to donate sanitary pads. However, it is up to the students in the SAR Clubs to lead this project. “We’ve tasked the boys with this initiative,” Alana states. The boys will oversee decorating the boxes, coordinating with local grocery stores, and eventually retrieving donated pads. Not only does this process give students an opportunity to engage with the community and champion a project, but it also helps diminish the stigma surrounding sexual development. “This is a way that boys can help out their sisters,” Ariane says.
“We’re also very excited about the debate competition,” Eva, chimes in. Last October, the SAR team hosted a drama competition at WAR and the results were beyond what they expected. The event had over 130 participants and all the schools prepared dramas complete with songs and dances. Due to the success of the previous event, anticipation is already building for the debate competition. Right now, they have five schools signed up but anticipate seven.
In addition to these projects, the team is also preparing to host workshops in the Maun’s five (5) customary kgotlas. These workshops aim to open up parent-child communication. “The idea is that we’re paralleling what we speak about with the students and the parents of the students,” Alana states, “they should be going home with the same messages and understandings.” The half-day workshops will feature presentations from stakeholders throughout the community such as the police, healthcare workers, social workers, etc.
The SAR team have been keeping busy so far and if January is any indicator, they are going to have a very eventful and exciting year.