Last Friday, Sabrina, Bess, Madi and I all went to the Cape Coast branch of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana to see a debate and ended up working with the organization for the entire afternoon.
We traveled with the organization to a nearby school to host a casual debate between middle school students about teen pregnancy, an issue that the organization is currently focusing on because Cape Coast has the second highest rate in the country. The statement that the students debated was: girls are responsible for teen pregnancy. It was boys (for) vs. girls (against) and the debaters were members of the brothers and sisters clubs that PPAG has started in the school to encourage students to start talking about sexual health. All members of their grade were watching the two teams compete so the classroom we were in was completely full. The girls cited a lack of parental figures, poverty and pressure from boys as major reasons that girls have sex while still young and get pregnant from it. Meanwhile the boys argued that girls are to blame for teen pregnancy because they are not protecting themselves from dangerous situations and are tempting boys. At the end of the debate, the judges (1 PPAG volunteer and 1 faculty member) announced that the boys team won because they had more confidence when arguing than the girls did. Madi and I strongly disagreed with the results as well as the head of PPAG and the other two volunteers.
Next, we went to a high school to hold a conversation about pre-marital sex and hear the students’ views. The PPAG leader encouraged students to voice their opinions for or against pre-marital sex and the students held an open conversation for about 20 minutes. Before we left, a nurse talked to the students about safe sex practices, informing them about various ways to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy. At the end of our time there, the PPAG leader announced that the organization is hosting a debate tournament between students from 4 high schools about a topic related to sexual health in the near future and that it would be broadcasted on television.
We ended the day at Cape Coast University where the PPAG is focusing on de-stigmatizing those living with HIV/AIDS. The PPAG leader led a discussion and asked for students to share how they would react if they found out that the person that they were about to marry had HIV/AIDS. He asked students to share their perceptions of those living with the disease and they were eager to share their views. Next, a woman living with HIV/AIDS stood up and shared her story with the students, encouraging them to accept those who are positive and support them. Finally, we handed out condoms to all of the students.
I was amazed at the different types of programs that the Cape Coast PPAG offers in the community and enjoyed learning about all of the services that the organization offers.