This is a question most young ones ask themselves on issues that concern sexual reproductive health (SRH) issues. Cultural beliefs are becoming a hindrance to the youths age 20 and below. Most Malawian cultures don’t allow youths to talk about sexually-related health issues with their parents as well as other grown-ups in their communities. These boys and girls are scared to talk to their parents on issues that affect their lives. In Malawi, a girl cannot ask her mother or father how to use condoms during sex, as this is considered as a taboo and that child might be punished for it. Some youths are scared to go to some clinics to collect condoms for fear of being asked what he/she is going to do with them. This becomes a challenge to the youths and they end up engaging themselves in unprotected sexual intercourse, which exposes them to unplanned pregnancies, as well as sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). 

A young person in the Luzi community, in Mzimba north district, complained that they cannot go and access condoms in their clinics for fear of being questioned about what they intend to do with the condoms. This boy was excited to know that the national volunteers, as well as their fellow UK volunteers from Tovwirane HIV & AIDS Organisation, were going to distribute the condoms to any sexually active youth that is willing to collect them for free.

This has been noted as a problem to both the people in the communities and the volunteers too, because regardless of age, anyone can contract STIs, as long as they engage in sexual intercourse. That’s why volunteers from Tovwirane are introducing the ‘pa mphala’ clubs (clubs including both adults and the youths) to open up to each other and talk freely about SRH. This means that anyone can talk about SRH with anyone, regardless of age. We the volunteers enlighten the people that we are not there to dilute their culture but to help on decreasing issues of SRH in the communities. A healthy community is built with its healthy people. It has been estimated that the youths are more active on sexual issues and that is the reason why Tovwirane, with the help of its ICS volunteers, are there to establish these clubs and end this communication gap on sexual issues between parents and children.

Children playing games with UK and national volunteers

So this closes the gap of communication between adults and youths on sexual issues, and this becomes a YES to all the youths and children that they too can talk about it and give out their ideas on this issue in order to build a healthy Malawi. Let’s all talk about it and end STIs. Parents and community leaders are willing to work with the ICS volunteers on establishing these clubs and they too say NO to STIs.

Written by ICS volunteer Leticia Nkhoma