Building a Brighter Future: How UNFPA Out of School Project Transformed Issahaku Zuleha’s life.

The UNFPA Out-of-school project being implemented by Hope for Future Generations has been a beacon of hope and empowerment for adolescents and young people living with HIV (AYPLHIV). It offers vital reproductive health sessions that are both educational and inspiring. Currently being implemented in the Ashanti, Greater Accra, and Northern regions, the initiative brings together 25 AYPLHIV each quarter, for an intensive 6 weeks, unlearn, learn, and relearn about their sexual reproductive health, dealing with HIV stigma and discrimination, adhering to their Anti-retroviral Therapy and living a fulfilling life.

Issahaku Zuleha (not her real name), a young girl living with HIV from Sagnarigu, a town in the Northern region shares her incredible experience after being a participant in the program. 

The UNFPA Out of School project came at the right time for me, living in a town where access to comprehensive health education is limited, I was so excited to have been selected for it. Every week I attended sessions that had been carefully crafted and delivered by a team of peer facilitators and other young people like myself to learn about crucial knowledge about my reproductive health. I enjoyed the sense of community and empowerment it gave me.

Beneficiaries working together during reproductive health education sessions

The sessions were super interactive, covering essential sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) topics like reproductive health, drug abuse, human rights, positive living, adherence to ART, nutrition, and adolescent and youth-friendly health services. What made it even more special was the safe and supportive environment where we could learn and grow together. I felt at ease asking questions I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking my parents or a health worker. The sessions really encouraged a sense of open communication among us all.

Through engaging demonstrations, illustrations, presentations, and interactive activities, we were able to deepen our understanding of several complex issues and make informed decisions about our reproductive health. 

One of the best parts was how actively we all participated. We shared our experiences, asked important questions, and supported each other in learning and growing together. This wasn’t just about gaining knowledge; it was about building confidence and feeling empowered to take charge of our sexual and reproductive health.

The impact has been incredible! We all felt more informed, supported, and empowered to make positive choices for our health. Beyond the knowledge we gained, these sessions have helped us feel like we belong to a community that truly values our well-being and growth. 

A number of us were able to start small businesses from the support we received, from petty trading to buying tools and equipment for handiwork like tailoring, hairdressing, and weaving. Some of us even used the money we received to cover essential needs like menstrual materials, medicines, clothing, and food. 

I appreciate the dedication of the facilitators and the collaborative spirit that was shared throughout the sessions. By empowering us with essential health education, these sessions have made a meaningful difference in our lives and set a foundation for a healthier and more informed future.

I also express my deepest gratitude to UNFPA and Hope for Future Generations for lighting up our lives and allowing us to build a better future!