The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement, overcoming challenges, and long hours of work. Between meeting with communities and working with our staff to adapt our curriculum and develop our monitoring and evaluation plan, we have fallen behind on keeping you all updated on what we are doing.
Since our last posting, we hired an amazing staff: Eva, Adam, Joyce, and Sam (you can read more about them on our “Meet our Staff” blogs). They have been working diligently with us to take the UNICEF developed sugar-daddy awareness program and localize it for Ghanaian youth. This means making big decisions like determining how to approach the topics of sex and condom use with elementary and junior high students, as well as small decisions like figuring out that it is more appropriate to use the word “age-mate” when referring to a classmate or peer.
Last week we finalized the list of schools that we will be working in. Over the next month, we will be visiting 7 schools in 3 communities to deliver our curriculum to more than 1000 students. We chose these schools and communities for two reasons:
- We have established local partners who work in these areas. These partners have been vital to us and, as a new NGO with limited time and funding, we could not have done it without them. They have helped introduce us to the head mistresses, assemblymen, school district directors, and, in the case of Berekuso, the Chief.
- There is a need. We recently received updated data from Ghana Health Service stating that older men in Ghana are 9X more likely than younger men to be infected with HIV. In addition, because of the power imbalance between a young girl and an older man, the girl is unlikely to be able to negotiate to use a condom with her partner, leading to higher risk of HIV and pregnancy. In a focus group we conducted at Berekuso, 4 of the 7 junior high school girls we spoke with knew age-mates who were dating older men, whose ages ranged from 24 to 48. This is the reason we are here.
The need to a provide sugar-daddy awareness program was confirmed for us last week when we had our first PTA meetings at Berekuso primary and junior high schools and Fidelity Juvenile School. While many parents agreed that sugar-daddies, HIV, and teen pregnancy is a problem in their communities, most said they did not talk with their kids about it. We hope that by providing our curriculum to the parents and teachers as well as the students, we can change that.