UKZN’s Friends of Médecins Sans Frontirés (FoMSF) recently hosted a “Girl Talk” initiative in the Welbedacht community, which provided valuable knowledge to empower young women to have self-confidence as well as to make safe choices with regards to sexuality and pregnancy.
Attended by approximately 140 young ladies, aged between 12 and 20, the initiative formed part of the National FoMSF Women’s Month campaign which provided a platform for young women to speak freely with the hope that it will ultimately result in change for the better.
On arrival, the ladies were asked to write anonymous questions to be answered during the programme and were given a bookmark to write an inspiring quote for another woman.
Speakers covered a range of topics. These included “Living with HIV”, where Researcher and Social Worker Ms Delarise Mulqueeny shared her personal experience and inspired the young girls to persevere in life despite the challenges they encounter along the way.
Another topic was presented by Ms Nqobile Joyful Hlongwane from the Jes Foord Foundation. She shared Jes Foord’s personal story of rape and survival. She educated the girls on the appropriate channels for dealing with rape, self-care after rape and how to preserve the evidence, as well as the use and whereabouts of rape centres.
Ms Sarah Donkin from SubzPads’ Project Dignity spoke about menstruation and personal hygiene. She also touched on personal choices and how to avoid peer pressure, as well as self-confidence when dealing with issues around sex.
Ms Eloise Francis spoke about teenage pregnancy and affirmed the ladies by encouraging them to understand that they are loved and treasured.
The presentations were followed by an interactive session where the girls engaged with the guest speakers and volunteers to address the previously-written anonymous personal questions. These covered various relevant topics such as sex, pregnancy, abortion, adoption, grief and bereavement.
The event ended with the handing out of the bookmarks with inspiring messages and gift hampers containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, pack of pads, face soap and oil to each lady. The event was sponsored by Sparkport Pharmacy, the DuMarc cosmetic company, Moosa’s Discount Warehouse, Food for Life and the Naicker family.