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Nesia (not her real name), a twenty-one (21) year old young woman who resides in Mkimbizi ward Iringa, graduated from secondary school in 2020. Her grades were not good to pursue advanced secondary school studies and her parents were unable to afford vocational training for her. As a result, Nesia was left at home with nothing to do. This was very difficult and challenging for Nesia, so she decided to look for a job as a bartender in a pub that was also close to areas where young and adult women engage in commercial sex. “After finishing secondary studies, I faced a lot of challenges, my parents could not support me financially, so I had to find a job to earn a living. My first job was working as a bar tender,” said Nesia. 

Although Nesia’s aim was earning a living, the environment she was working in was so tempting that she struggled to resist its influence. “I was working in a risky environment. It was a place where women earn a living through commercial sex. There was high pressure on my end that I found myself also engaging in commercial sex. I had multiple partners and, in most cases, having unprotected sex as it was difficult to make decision on safe sex when drunk but also desperate for money. In the end, I unexpectedly found myself pregnant. As I had unprotected sex with multiple men, I could not even tell the man who was responsible for the pregnancy.” 

Nesia had to terminate the pregnancy and had the following to say “I had to seek pills for abortion.  I can’t recall the name of the pills I bought but that experience deeply affected me and it was the most difficult experience in my life. I got ill and I was about to lose my life because of the effect of the medication that I took. whenever I recall that near-death experience it still affects me psychologically to date.”  

Nesia had contact with the Project’s Peer Educator from Iringa region (Meekness Kikoti, R, in the photo above) during her regular SRH information sessions with adolescents and young people in her street. “Recently I met a peer educator who introduced herself that she is working for the SYV project reaching out to adolescents and young people. She helped me learn about sexual and reproductive health and rights including a range of available services. Hearing what I have just gone through, she advised me to meet with a health care provider from Ngome Health Centre here in Iringa. She accompanied me and we went to meet the health care worker and I got tested for HIV and STIs. I was frightened by the thought of testing because of my previous experience but I had to do it anyway. When the results came out, I tested negative, and I felt so happy I almost cried. I was also given extra care following the abortion I had. They educated and advised me to take family planning method of my choice to avoid unplanned pregnancy and I chose an implant.” 

Nesia had to quit her job as a bartender and started looking for a new job, under the guidance of the peer educator. However, she remains grateful to the peer educator who has been with her since they met. “Since I met the peer educator, she became an important support to me. She taught me a lot about sexual reproductive health and, she had been my guide in finding a new job, until I landed a job as a hotel attendant which has safe working environment.” 

Out of realization that many young girls become victims of unprotected sex due to lack of adequate and proper information about SRHR, Nesia acknowledges that she has become a good ambassador of youth SRHR. She is looking to support other girls to know about their sexual health and the need to seek information, support, and referral services. “Whenever I meet a girl or a young woman who puts her life at risk by engaging in multiple sex and unprotected sex, I normally spend my time talking to them, sharing with them my personal experience. If I see i can’t convince them enough, I communicate with the peer educator who will then make time and talk to them. It’s my dream to continue being a good SRH ambassador so I can save other girls and young women as the peer educator did to me.”