Will you be pregnant once you start menstruating? … Student ask.

182 students streamed into the auditorium of Vale College, Ibadan, Oyo State, their faces mixed with expressions of curiosity and excitement as they wondered in their minds what this “talk” was about. They sat chattering excitedly as the team from Onelife Initiative for Human Development – Chidinma Okoli, Obasanjo Fajemirokun and ‘Sola Fagorusi were introduced.

The event which was attended by the entire students of the school and 11 teachers, including 3 principal officers, and the Director of the school; Mrs. Funso Adegbola, started with a slide presentation that lasted for about two hours. The presentation extensively covered issues that Adolescents and Young People (AYP) are concerned about. Sexuality education, career choice and prospects, peer pressure, abstinence, self esteem were some of the themes covered in the course of the power point presentation.

To make young people comfortable about asking questions, we adopted the Anonymous Question box approach. This way, questions were written and then dropped in the box. No name was written on the question. Some of the questions asked include the following –

  1. How do you control masturbation?
  2. Is it normal for a person to be a hermaphrodite from birth?
  3. Is there any way a girl can get pregnant without having sexual intercourse?
  4. Why does menstruation blood smell?
  5. Is it wrong for a boy and girl to have sex with their trousers on? Why is menstruation so important?
  6. Everyone says once you start menstruating, you’d be pregnant, is that true?
  7. How do you avoid bad friends without hurting their feelings?
  8. Is it okay to go on a date with your boyfriend if you don’t trust him?
  9. How do I choose a career?
  10. Why is the woman solely blamed for getting pregnant, and the boy left to go scot-free?

The programmes and media manager of Onelife Initiative for Human Development explained that the anonymous question box approach was adopted from Action Health Incorporated, a non-governmental organisation he worked with as a youth staff several years back. He then took time to provide in-depth answers to all questions asked, dispelling all forms of myths.

The event came to an end with the Head Girl of The Vale College presenting a gift to Onelife Initiative thanking the team for honouring their invitation. The questions on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) continued even after the event as some of the boys hung around to ask more questions even as some parents waited to take their children home.

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