Beta Bisa Sehat (I Can be Healthy) : Rote
On the island of Rote, in Indonesia, THREE for All is working with local organisational partners, schools and religious leaders to address the growing risk of HIV and AIDS in the region, and to promote good sexual health. We have developed and continue to support sexual health peer-education programs amongst young people on Rote, and are implementing an advocacy strategy focused on building HIV counselling, testing, treatment and support services and improving access to condoms. Since 2013 we have trained more than 120 students (and their support teachers) as sexual health peer educators, and they have delivered programs to hundreds of their peers.
Aim: To reduce the prevalence and impact of HIV and AIDS on the island of Rote in Indonesia, promote sexual health and advocate for expansion of sexual health services.
Partners: Yayasan Tanpa Batas and Gereja Masehi Injili di Timor (the Indonesian Church of Timor)
Activities: Developing and supporting comprehensive sexual health education programs and peer-educator training; supporting rollout of HIV testing and counselling; promoting condom access; undertaking research and advocacy for the development of comprehensive HIV services; maintaining a youth-friendly Facebook page promoting adolescent health and wellbeing.
Why? Rates of HIV infection continue to grow on Rote and across the Nusa Tengarra Timur region of Indonesia. Stigma, shame and the taboo of talking about sex create an environment in which sexually transmissible infections can spread largely unchecked. Reports of deaths due to syphilis, a disease that is easily prevented and easily cured, continue in to 2017. Rote is rapidly modernising, its people are becoming far more mobile, and new technologies are encouraging and allowing young people to meet and develop relationships in new ways. As for young people everywhere, those on Rote have the right to accurate and comprehensive sexual health education that reduces stigma and fear and allows them to make informed choices. This has been recognised by both village elders and church leaders who have supported our work and allow us to promote safe sex practices that recognise the reality of young people's lives.
What’s happened so far? Since 2013 we have trained more than 120 student peer educators and their teachers (who act as support to the peer educators across 9 secondary schools), and 20 young people who do not attend school. Between them they have educated several hundred young people regarding safe sex and sexual health, both through formal, structured programs and informally amongst their friends. Together, we have undertaken advocacy work focused on bringing HIV services to the island and making condoms more readily available.
In 2015, after an extensive review and evaluation, we broadened our scope to include other sexual and reproductive health issues, as well as to support students' learning about the impact of alcohol and other drugs and about the impacts of new technologies and the influx of tourists to the island.
In 2017 we launched a Facebook page that allows young people from Rote and across NTT to anonymously ask questions about sexual health and sexuality, and provides regular updates, reminders and tips about staying healthy, respectful relationships, and negotiating safe sex. The page has quickly become a popular and well-utilised site for useful information.
What’s next? We will continue to support our peer educators and their teachers and to engage with government regarding the establishment of HIV services. We have also been asked to assist in the development of broader and more holistic programs focused on young people’s health.
Photo credits: THREE for All Foundation.