Shantel is a Champion of SRHR for Adolescents
Shantel Mumpande, the young and energetic junior councillor of Lubanda ward 25 and Binga district, has set her sights on becoming the President of Zimbabwe. Her selection as the junior councillor was due to her excellent presentation on the topic of health for young girls. However, Shantel did not rest on her glory but instead utilised her position to benefit other young girls in her community.
The Covid-19 era brought about a significant challenge for young girls, with many dropping out of school due to early pregnancies resulting from engaging in early sexual activities. According to Shantel, “In my class we were 40 pupils, but after Covid-19, we are now only 14, and the majority of the dropouts are girls who were impregnated during the lockdown.” Unfortunately, most of these girls lack knowledge about Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) services and rights. Some of them did not willingly get pregnant but were raped on their way to school, because Lubanda secondary school is far from most homesteads where young girls stay.
In the wake of a health workshop that earned her the title, Shantel, a 16-year-old junior councillor, took it upon herself to educate her peers on the importance of safe sex practices. It was under this background that Shantel began conducting peer-to-peer education sessions, sharing vital information on abstinence, the use of condoms to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS, and preventing unwanted pregnancies. With a passion for helping others and a drive to make a difference in her community, Shantel’s dedication to educating her peers is nothing short of inspiring. Her commitment to spreading awareness and promoting safe sex practices is also in line with the work of the PSA project.
The Partnership for Social Accountability (PSA) Alliance project, which aims to provide adolescents and young people with comprehensive, quality, non-judgmental, and inclusive HIV and other SRHR public services, is expanding its reach and it has introduced the agriculture component into two more wards, including Lubanda ward. This expansion presents a unique opportunity for Shantel to further her education on SRHR and better serve her community as a junior councillor. Excited about the potential impact of the PSA project, Shantel eagerly awaits the opportunity to learn more about SRHR. She recognizes that by educating herself and others on safe sex practices and preventing unwanted pregnancies, she can make a real difference in her community. “I am looking forward to learn more through the PSA project and they should teach us more about SRHR so that the number of unwanted pregnancies in our ward can be reduced” she said. With this newfound knowledge, Shantel is determined to help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in her ward.
In addition to its focus on SRHR education, the introduction of the agriculture component is set to have a positive impact on Lubanda ward’s youth. By providing an engaging after-school activity, the program will help keep young boys and girls occupied and away from potentially harmful sexual activities. Shantel sees this as an excellent opportunity for her peers to shift their focus towards farming and away from risky behaviours.