I am the director and cofounder of Projet Jeune Leader (Young Leader Project), an organization in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar working to improve the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of adolescents and develop their leadership qualities. Projet Jeune Leader was selected by HC3 to test and provide feedback on the project’s new tool, the Urban Adolescent SRH Social and Behavior Change Communication Implementation Kit (I-Kit).
Projet Jeune Leader’s main work consists of informing young adolescents about SRH, puberty, and leadership topics via a multi-component program implemented in public schools. The I-Kit was not used directly to reinforce this program, but rather to guide the implementation of a new, complementary program for parents of adolescents. Indeed, our previous experience and research proved that few adolescents in Fianarantsoa feel prepared themselves to discuss sensitive subjects (e.g., early pregnancy, early sexual relationships, puberty, etc.) with their children. The I-Kit was very useful in learning more about our priority audiences, and identifying effective communication channels, messages and monitoring and evaluation methods to implement this new social and behavior change communication (SBCC) program.
I used the I-Kit in a particular way: as a training tool. In fact, as an organization composed specifically of young professionals in the beginning of their careers, one of our goals is to incorporate professional training to organization staff to give them new tools, methodologies for their work, and expertise that will benefit them in the long term. Also, I knew that from the beginning I wanted it to be my field education team – those who would facilitate the meetings with the parents – who themselves built and evaluated this new program using the I-Kit.
I transcribed the content of each of the I-Kit’s Essential Elements (EEs) into a PowerPoint presentation as I found that to read the EEs line by line wasn’t the best way to encourage debate and discussion. With this PowerPoint format, I could also integrate visual elements – such as small videos and illustrative images – that made the sessions more engaging.
I would advise to other organizations wanting to use the I-Kit as a training tool to first designate one person to guide its utilization, and also to let this person play with the format.
In using this I-Kit as a training tool, I truly noticed its positive effect on the development of my team. They had never before known about SBCC theories, or heard about the P-Process, for example. After completing the I-Kit’s worksheets and by familiarizing themselves with the EEs’ content, they learned SBCC best practices and technical terms. They are now prepared to apply their superb local knowledge in a more theoretical discourse.
In addition to the positive impact it has had on my team, the I-Kit was essential to guide the design of our new program for parents of adolescents. In fact, the I-Kit forced us to carefully define our priority audiences, our messages, our indicators and objectives, and much more before even beginning work. Also, the I-Kit added more rigor to the implementation of the new SBCC program that is so important to the context of our mission.
Maia Freudenberger is American, but grew up in Madagascar. She left to the United States for her university studies at Haverford College and then returned to Madagascar to co-found Projet Jeune Leader. Maia can be contacted at fianarleader*AT*gmail.com.