Windhoek, Namibia — Elicia Naujoma, a 12-year-old Namibian girl, recently attended a workshop about reproductive health and HIV prevention — not in a school or clinic, but through her church. “They taught me more about my body, about how our bodies are not to be touched by anyone, and how to protect against rape,” she says.
Churches in Namibia and other countries have not always been willing to sponsor workshops on taboo topics such as puberty, sexuality, and violence. Late in 2005, Elicia was one of more than 200 youth in her region of the country to attend a weekend workshop on these topics, coordinated with churches. Churches held parent-youth activities to discuss sexuality. They also sponsored pastors’ forums during which adults discussed how their churches can work with youth to prevent early sexual debut and its consequences, including pregnancy and HIV infection.
These events, working with a new Christian Family Life Education (CFLE) curriculum, have already reached nearly 1,500 youth in Namibia. Launched officially in July 2005, the CFLE curriculum provides resource materials in short modules for younger youth from a Christian perspective. The workshops involve numerous participatory activities and opportunities for practicing new skills. The project is led by the Change of Life Styles (COLS) Project, a Namibian faith-based organization, and Family Health International (FHI)/YouthNet, with funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the U.S. Agency for International Development/Namibia.