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Happiness begins with good health | FutureLife-Now! organises school-based health jamborees in Zambia

Posted by Letswalo L Marobane on 14 February 2024, 13:10 SAST
Letswalo L Marobane photo

David Ramushu Secondary School in Kabwe is situated in one of the most lead-polluted areas in Zambia. The effects of lead poisoning, coupled with other issues, have devastating effects on the health of, not only the learners, but also on members of the community at large. This is naturally of grave concern to FutureLife-Now! with its focus on the health and wellbeing of those in the school communities it serves. So, to support the school and its community, in May and October last year, the FutureLife-Now! programme organised health services jamborees for learners, teachers and members of the community at David Ramushu Secondary.

The relevance and importance of such events are summed up by Richard Ngoma, teacher and FutureLife-Now! focal point person at David Ramushu.

Through various presentations by health officials from Kasanda Health Centre, I was reminded about the realities of the gap that existed on crosscutting issues and how teachers and stakeholders are the driving force … when it comes to information dissemination.  More schools are becoming more widely recognised as a focal point for the initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of our young generation … .

If we wish to solve major health and societal issues, we must approach learners early, before they face issues which may prove insurmountable to their health and wellbeing. The ideal location to accomplish this job is in schools, where the vast majority of the youngsters congregate every day. With FutureLife-Now! conducting health services jamborees at our school it has become evident that health education and services are more important than ever.

The jamborees covered multiple and wide-ranging topics, from unhealthy diets, substance abuse, effects of climate change on the youth to sexual reproductive health and rights issues—including teenage pregnancy, sexuality, unsafe sexual behaviour, delaying sexual debut, HIV&AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and gender-based violence. These talks have had a profound impact on some learners:

The jamboree has helped me make healthy choices and avoid risky behaviour that can lead to teenage pregnancy. Delaying sex is now my goal until I get married. – Grade 12 Female learner

I have been using drugs secretly with my friends for the past year. Listening to health officials about the effects of harmful substances has made me realize the mistakes I have been making and I promise to stop and be an example to other pupils. – Grade 9 female learner

Risky behaviour is often a product of patterns learnt in early childhood and can remain through adolescence and into adulthood. They are often interconnected and contribute to poor health and education outcomes and can have dire social consequences. But FutureLife-Now! brings hope, as other David Ramushu learners have declared:

FutureLife-Now! is a big blessing to us, the young people, as it is helping us to acquire the right information during the jamboree and this in turn is helping us to avoid the risky behaviour that can lead to HIV, and other STIs, among us, the pupils. – Grade 11 male learner

We need jamborees every term because they are helping us to change our behaviour. The nurses are very friendly and are encouraging us to open up when discussing health matters. This has helped me to gain confidence. – Grade 8 male learner

The jamborees have assisted health officials to disseminate pertinent information to learners, teachers and other stakeholders. As one of the healthcare practitioners explains:

The jamborees are providing us with the opportunity to share health topics to the pupils, teachers and stakeholders easily and we are very grateful to FutureLife-Now! that we are able provide health services during jamborees. – Febby Nambeye (sister-in-charge, Kasanda Clinic)

Teachers at David Ramushu warmly commend the positive impact the jamborees have had:

As teachers we come into contact with a wide range of kids, many of whom lack the necessary skills to mature into healthy, productive adults; they need someone to make a difference in their lives, to offer them hope and FutureLife-Now! is providing our kids with hope during these jamborees and the positive impact is visible. – Mwanza Lackson (Head teacher)

The jamborees are helping to construct a healthy nation in which our pupils are well prepared, safe, and most importantly healthy because of the information being shared. – Martha Mable Kalaluka (teacher)

Since the jamborees have had such a positive influence on the health of the learners, and on the community, they will definitely be repeated, possibly even more regularly. The health of the learners makes it worth it.

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