Let’s talk about sex
A parent would rather feed their child the birds and bees story when it comes to discussing this issue. Gordon Ochieng, Youth Programme Manager at Family Health Option Kenya, explains why they do not mince words
Briefly tell us about Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK)?
FHOK is a local non-governmental organisation that provides Sexual and Reproductive Health Services through clinics and community projects that actively involve beneficiaries. It has a presence in 14 counties, with strong grassroots network.
What motivated the organisation to start youth centres?
We started youth centres after realising most young people don’t visit hospital for check-up because they fear their parents. With the ever increasing sexual and reproductive health problems such as sexually transmitted infections, HIV/Aids, unsafe abortions, high infant mortality rate, escalating adolescent problems and an increasing population, we realised that there is need for a place where youth can gather and learn about their sexual reproductive health in a youth-friendly setting. Our youth centres are located in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Meru, Bondo and Kisumu.
If a young person visits the centre today, what kind of services would they get?
In our centres, we offer youth-friendly services such as clinic services, VCT and general counselling, vocational training, capacity building, library, knowledge, informational services and recreational activities.
How many people have benefited from your youth programme?
More than 500,000 youths have benefited from our projects. We hope to reach a bigger number in the next five years through our outreach activities.
What is the criteria for one to join your youth programme?
There is no criteria. Every youth is welcome to our centres and it’s free to access our services. Sex education is a thorny issue here in Kenya.
Why did you choose to go down this path?
The issue of sex education has become an exceptionally controversial one. Our curriculum teaches knowledge, behaviour, attitudes and skills that promote committed family relationships, healthy l relationships, good character and good reproductive health.
Sex education seeks to assist children in understanding a positive view of sexuality, provide them with the skills about taking care of their sexual health and help them to acquire skills to make decisions now and in the future.
One of your initiatives is the Youth Sexuality Education (YES) project. What is its impact?
There has been decrease of pregnancies in schools where this project has been implemented. Further, health service providers have indicated that young people were reporting fewer incidences of sexually transmitted infections.