My story as a Peer Educator cannot be much told and appreciated anywhere else in the world than where it all began. In a medium sized room located just at the heart of Midlands State University Gweru Campus, The Students’ Resource Centre, is where my dream and journey to greatness began to unfold. It is at that place that I met my first love at college, peer education.
As a freshman I had no idea of how college functions and how to survive college life. With the zeal and passion for learning, during my first week at college, I was introduced by a friend of mine to something that by then I didn’t believe was going to shape my University life. He introduced me to a cause that was in synchrony with my passion of saving and changing lives, The Peer Education Network Club. I attended my first meeting at the Students’ Resource Centre and it was quite an experience filled with a vast amount of knowledge on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Gender Based Violence, etc. The quality and clarity of the knowledge that was being shared in there through peer to peer sessions and SAYWHAT facilitated dialogues was intriguing. I began to love serving and saving lives through this club by being a soldier of humanity.
My introductory training by the MSU Health Services Department fuelled the fire in me. I began to participate in the voluntary referral programs for HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) Services at the Campus Clinic and the Students’ Resource Centre. Apart from my lecture rooms and my hostel, the resource centre became a home for me; I could see the real meaning of life through knowledge sharing with likeminded peers.
Moreover, as part of my capacity building, I was selected to be part of the individuals who went through a comprehensive peer education training which was facilitated by SAYWHAT. That Peer Education training was a full package training, filled with comprehensive information on sexual reproductive health and rights. Having been fully equipped with knowledge and experience, my second academic semester saw me being elected President of Local Coordinating Committee. The shoes were too big for me but with the guidance of my fellow Peers and the Resource Centre stationed SAYWHAT coordinators, the shoes slowly became smaller and I had to get new ones.
“It is said that an army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep,” Ours was an army of lions led by a lion and this made my term of office easier because everyone in the club was a leader in his or her own right. Also I was privileged to take part in the Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Teacher Educators which was sponsored by UNFPA in partnership with SAYWHAT. Out of all the LCC members, none failed the course. This was an eye opening and life changing opportunity as, in addition to receiving a certificate, I got to widen my knowledge on sexuality as a whole.
Being the leader of the Local Coordinating Committee exposed me to opportunities that fuelled my passion and zeal for sexual reproductive health advocacy. However, as the leader of peer education network I had limited capacity to influence university’s policies with regards to the student’s sexuality needs and their Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights. That motivated me to run for the Minister of Health post in the Student Representative Council elections as I had been exposed to that area through my involvement with SAYWHAT activities and being a Peer Educator. Despite the competition, with the help of my team, the Peer Educators, I won the election and became the Minister of Health.
I went into office as minister ready to advocate for policy change and fully equipped with knowledge on the needs of adolescence and youths with regards to sexuality. Right at the beginning of my tenure as a minister of health, I attended a National Aids Council workshop on Comprehensive Sexuality Education that was being facilitated by SAYWHAT, UNFPA, PSZ and the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
So far in my capacity as the minister, I have managed to advocate for the translation of Sexual Reproductive Health IEC material into braille to enable blind students to access the comprehensive information like all the other students. That was done with the help of the MSU college focal person. Through my ministerial office I have also managed to advocate for youth friendly service provision at the college clinic with aim at privacy and friendly staff which is in line with the nine standards on youth friendly service provision by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
As the MSU SRC, we have managed to craft and avail to the students a newly revised sexual harassment policy that is now being used as a guide by the students, protecting also the victims of harassment. The revised policy has been uploaded on the students’ portal for all students to access it. In addition, we managed to advocate for the placement of suggestion boxes around campus to enable students to report sexual offences and other health related issues. We are still pursuing SRHR advocacy.
Peer Education Network also provided room for me to nature my passion of speaking. I have become an eloquent public speaker, an SRHR equipped individual, a young leader, and a soldier of humanity. I am who I am today because my first love at college was Peer Education. My journey as a peer educator would not have been possible if it was not for the great help and mentorship I got from the peer education network focal person, the SAYWHAT secretariat, fellow peers and my family that supported and believed in me and awarded me various opportunities that were stepping stones to where I am today.