Story of Brenda from Kenya
After reading it, write your own story!
The previous situation
Brenda grew up in a village where there was little attention for the health needs of young people and specifically not relating to sexual and reproductive health. Not a single parent in my village would talk about it”, she recalls. At school, the human reproductive system was mentioned only once during science. “Before my teacher started he gave us a warning: if any of us dared to laugh, he would stop immediately. During this lesson, no one dared to blink. The lesson took twenty minutes, while we had spent a week learning about the plant reproductive system.”
In church Brenda was taught never to talk about sex because it was a sin. “We were kept in the dark and sexuality remained an elusive topic.” The information they did get, was often incorrect. “Without the right SRHR information some of my friends got pregnant, dropped out of school or got married at a young age.”
Brenda went to the capital Nairobi to get her degree. “I thought university students would be smart and informed, but I didn’t see a big difference. Most young people I met shied away from speaking about sexuality, even though it played such an important role in their lives.”
She went on to join the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA) as a youth advocate, but says she was shy and narrow minded at first. She experienced quite a shock, because not only was sexuality discussed openly also taboo topics such as homosexuality and abortion were talked about by NAYA and trainers from CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality. “It was a good learning opportunity for me and I discovered that I had prejudice and was discriminating others unknowingly.”
The current situation
Now Brenda actively advocates with NAYA for the sexual reproductive health and rights of young people. She is also involved in broadcasting radio shows where they inform the youth and discuss various challenges the young people are facing. “I am passionate about seeing a change in my country.”
In March, Brenda attended the Commission on Population and Development (COPD) in New York, a unique opportunity to interact with youth advocates from other countries and experience advocacy at the highest level. “I learned that we cannot achieve change alone, we need to support each other. I look forward to invest in my own community in the village, to start up conversations with young people. Meaningful participation of young people is the key to the sustainable development of any country. We are more than statistics in a report. We are right holders and part and parcel of sustainable development. We are not just a number. We can grow up and be normal people who can look forward to a better future!”
Write down three elements you liked about Brenda's story. How did she make her story personal? Write a story about yourself!