Family planning training commences in rural Limpopo, South Africa

October 19, 2017

 

Population & Sustainability Network member, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP), has this week commenced community based training on family planning and other issues in the rural community of Tshilwavhusiku, in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The community dialogues have been prepared by TVEP and Population & Sustainability Network coordinator, the Margaret Pyke Trust.

The community named their project “Nndwakhulu” which, in the local TshiVenda language, means “the big fight!” Nndwakhulu has been designed to respond to the multitude of human rights abuses that are widespread in the area and endured by the community. By raising awareness among community members of their rights, providing them with the tools to better exercise them, and simultaneously working with the public authorities to ensure they deliver the services they are mandated to provide, TVEP and the Margaret Pyke Trust aim to generate long term sustainable change.

Last week, the first 100 community members attended the inaugural community dialogues on family planning as part of “Future Planning”. Family planning is presented as not only fundamental for women and girls’ health and empowerment but also as an important component of women and men’s future planning. In fact, access to quality and voluntary, rights-based family planning formation and services is essential to health, livelihoods and fulfilment of human rights. It is in this field that the work of the Margaret Pyke Trust has focussed. TVEP focal areas are other sexual and reproductive health issues which are faced by the community, including child abuse, HIV/AIDS, gender based violence, minority rights and sexual assault. Over the course of the two year project, a total of 1,200 community members will benefit from five days’ training on these project themes.

The training is facilitated by Community Activists who have been trained by TVEP and who are using the training materials jointly developed by the Margaret Pyke Trust and TVEP. A family planning nurse has been recruited for Nndwakhulu, and a sexual and reproductive health consultant, one of the Margaret Pyke Volunteers, has also volunteered her time to provide technical inputs.

The future planning one day community dialogue covers the various forms of contraception, from male and female condoms, to long acting reversible contraceptive methods such as Intra-Uterine Devices and implants. Participatory group exercises are used to clarify commonly held myths around contraception, encourage men’s positive participation in family planning, and highlight the non-health as well as the health benefits of contraception. The use of contraception is part of planning a healthy future.

Given the high levels of human rights abuses, including abuses of sexual and reproductive rights, it is critical that members of this marginalised, rural community are being empowered to exercise their rights, something which is not going unnoticed in the region. TVEP Programme Director, Fiona Nicholson, said, “We have been overwhelmed by the positive response, not only from this community, but also from the many neighbouring communities that have heard about what we are doing in Tshilwavhusiku. They are urging us to work in their communities as well, so we know that what we are doing is already having an impact”.

Carina Hirsch, Advocacy & Projects Manager of the Margaret Pyke Trust, concluded “We are very excited that the planning stage of Nndwakhulu has now turned into the implementation stage, and people in the real world are benefiting. Collaborating with the TVEP team has been a great opportunity. The Trust has learned so much about Tshilwavhusiku and its challenges and the work of TVEP, and we at the Trust have been delighted to be able to bring our family planning expertise to an organisation which had not previously considered contraception as part of their focus. We are delighted to think about the prospect of the huge potential for impact Nndwakhulu has at the project site itself, and beyond.”

Nndwakhulu is made possible because of the generous funding of the European Union’s Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.