The beginning of sexual relations is a problem that worries Pastor Michael Brown as teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are affecting girls that are having sex with adult carriers in Coco Solo due to economic pressures.
One way to address the “temptations,” which is how they address drugs, gangs, and sex, is through information. For this reason, the kids solicited a workshop in sexual education. During October and November of this year, we collaborated with the team from Cambio Creativo and have created workshops on Comprehensive Sexual Education for boys, girls, and teenagers in the Coco Solo community, with the objective of presenting basic information over the distinct components of sexuality like self-esteem and other values, knowledge of our bodies, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV.
We have the help of Delia Martínez, a social worker from the Integral Care Center for Adolescents in Colón. She is accompanied by Maruquel, one of the teenage promoters of conversations on HIV. The space was greatly enriched by the easy flow of information between young people with questions and answers on how HIV is contracted, how are those with HIV viewed, and how we can care for those infected. Meanwhile, the adults helped with inter-generational work on how to combat HIV in Colón, which is the province with the second highest level of prevalence and infection of this epidemic.
In another session, we collected signatures of all the participants and then exhanged them freely. Each signature represented unprotected sex and through this game we found that Pocho, one of the teenage participants, had become infected. Clearly, after realizing he was infected, Ponch became a little sad. We told him life goes on and that his life plan would involve looking for treatment for those already infected like himself. Afterwards, we asked them all to write on small pieces of paper material things and nonmaterial things that they appreciate most in their lives: family, to continue studying at university, to have a Play Station 3, to have a car, to be someone in life. Afterwards they closed their eyes and some of the pieces of paper disappeared – they were upset and were left grieving because of the things they lost. As this game reflects real life, they realized how an accident or a disease can take us away from what we want and love most. In the end, the lesson was to take care of ourselves and avoid risks.
On the other hand teen pregnancy is a problem for all girls. Some are thrown out of their schools and sent to night school and others are dealt with by adults who like to “pick on little girls.” As a society we are responsible for the youth, and we should ask ourselves what we give them and then what we can expect of them. The opportunities are the key. I asked myself if we are listening to the teenagers of Colon. In every corner that I listen and talk to the teenagers they tell me that what they want most is to live without violence, to live without fear of crossing the streets, and to enjoy being healthy.
To all of the businesses and people that want to help a project of social responsibility, we tell them to invest the most in the valuable part of Colón: “its people”. Because in order to make an intervention with the youth, we need their fathers, mothers, and educators, like a triangle that makes a table not fall, says Professor Mauro Gordón. Cambio Creativo is a community project that continues to plan in 2012, transforming the lives of the young boys and girls, which with very few resources and great desire have already done a lot, now in order to achieve the objective they will need the help of a responsible adult society to give the necessary support for the development of the youth.
-Tania Rodríguez G. (Social Worker and Specialist in HIV-AIDS and Youth)