By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a proactive move towards enhancing Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), combating Gender-Based Violence (GBV), addressing Human Trafficking, and establishing referral pathways in the country, the Deaf Women Advocacy Network Sierra Leone (DWAN-SL), with support from Plan International, through its She Leads Project, has 25th& 26th January, 2024 successfully concluded outreach on enhancing Sexual and Reproductive Health, combating Gender Based Violence and Human trafficking, and providing referral pathways at the National School for the Deaf and the Hearing Impaired Community in Freetown respectively.
DWAN-SL, with unwavering support from Plan International, diligently executed the project with the aim of empowering hearing-impaired pupils and young individuals across the country.
The initiative encompassed comprehensive sessions on Sexual and Reproductive Health, offering valuable insights and knowledge to equip the hearing-impaired community. Additionally, the outreach delved into strategies to combat Gender-Based Violence and Human Trafficking, providing a robust platform for awareness and education.
Musu Kenyeh Golley, the dedicated Executive Director of DWAN-SL, continues to express heartfelt appreciation for the unwavering support provided by Plan International through its She Leads Project, underscoring the significance of addressing the challenges faced by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Men, Women, and Girls in Sierra Leone.
She emphasized that the recently concluded outreach played a crucial role in empowering hearing-impaired pupils and the community by providing essential information and resources.
According to Golley, the focal point of the outreach extended beyond disseminating information; it aimed to establish effective referral pathways and initiate a compelling call to action. By fostering a sense of empowerment and facilitating knowledge-sharing, DWAN-SL has instilled resilience and self-advocacy within the hearing-impaired pupils and community members.
Throughout the outreach sessions, participants engaged deeply in understanding the complexities of Sexual Reproductive Health, combating Gender-Based Violence, and comprehending the nuances of Human Trafficking. The Providing Referral Pathways and Call to Action initiatives were specifically designed to equip young hearing-impaired men and women with the knowledge and skills to navigate these challenges effectively.
Golley highlighted the profound difficulties faced by hearing-impaired women and girls, including discrimination, sexual harassment, and limited access to justice. She stressed the urgent need for collaboration with other institutions to address the unique challenges encountered by the hearing-impaired community in Sierra Leone.
She maintained that DWAN-SL, established in September 2020 by three passionate Deaf and Hard of Hearing Young Women, remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for equality, human rights, and empowerment among Deaf and Hard of Hearing Women and Girls in Sierra Leone and that the organization addresses a spectrum of issues, including leadership, gender-based violence, self-awareness, healthcare, economic empowerment, early deaf girl-child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education.
The Executive Director emphasized that the success of these outreaches underscores the commitment of DWAN-SL and Plan International to champion inclusivity and address the unique needs of the hearing-impaired population. As advocates for positive change, this collaborative effort contributes to building a more informed, empowered, and resilient community capable of actively navigating challenges related to Sexual Reproductive Health, Gender-Based Violence, and Human Trafficking.
Top of Form Marie Sesay, a Teacher at the National School for the Deaf, expressed profound appreciation to the Deaf Women Advocacy Network Sierra Leone (DWAN-SL) for embarking on the crucial outreach addressing Sexual and reproductive health (SRH), gender-based Violence (GBV), and Human Trafficking at the school. Describing the initiative as very important and timely, Sesay highlighted the positive impact it had on both educators and students.
She said that during the outreach, the participants gained valuable insights on various topics, equipping them, especially the pupils, with essential knowledge on how to care for themselves and understand their rights as hearing-impaired individuals.
Sesay emphasized that the outreach provided a platform for pupils to actively engage and ask questions related to enhancing Sexual and Reproductive Health, combating Gender-Based Violence, addressing Human Trafficking, and establishing referral pathways. This engagement equipped them with necessary information on these critical subjects.
Concluding her remarks, she urged the Government of Sierra Leone and other humanitarian organizations to extend their support to the National School for the Deaf. She highlighted the pressing need for assistance, particularly in the school’s feeding program. Additionally, she advocated for support to DWAN-SL, emphasizing the importance of similar training initiatives for the benefit of the hearing-impaired community.
Yusuf Kamara, a member of the Deaf Community, commended DWAN-SL for the outreach, stating that it provided a valuable platform for empowering individuals in the hearing-impaired community with crucial information and resources related to sexual and reproductive health.
He highlighted the significance of combating GBV and addressing Human Trafficking, acknowledging the practical dimension brought by the provision of referral pathways and a call to action.
Kamara views this initiative as a crucial step toward enhancing the overall health and safety of the hearing-impaired community in Sierra Leone.