KFROG Feature: Melissa Spencer

My name is Melissa Spencer and I have been in Ghana now for almost four weeks working with Youth Challenge International (YCI) and funded by KFROG. I am here with two other ladies to complete the field experience that is required to graduate from the International Project Management Graduate program at Humber College. The YCI Ghana project fits well with my goals and expectations of what I hope to achieve. It is important to me that I utilize the skills and knowledge that I learned through out the year during my field placement.

As part of preparations for the Ghana program, YCI volunteers are required to achieve a fundraising target to support YCI’s international projects and to cover certain personal costs, including vaccinations and our flight. Since I am from Kentville, Nova Scotia I had some existing knowledge of the Kaleigh French Reaching Out Globally (KFROG) organization. KFROGs mission, to help support Nova Scotian youth in their dreams of being connected with youth around the world, to help make the world a better place was a perfect fit for myself.  YCI also recommended that I reach out to KFROG and so I submitted an application and about a month after applying, I received a response that they would be happy to help fund my trip. I’m very thankful for their contribution, which helped make this project a reality for me.

We have now completed our first full week of workshops at the YMCA- Vocational Training Institute in Takoradi. We started with the fourth year students and finished with the first year. They were all really great, everyone participated and showed an interested in what we were talking about. We started with an icebreaker, which involved telling everyone your name and something you like to do, adding an action. For example, my name is Melissa and I like to dance and so I would have to do a little dance. They all seemed to really enjoy this and had a lot of fun and laughs with it.

The first part of our workshop focused on the female and male anatomy and how women can and cannot get pregnant. The students got involved with a group activity and discussion about what makes up the female and male genital area (for example, the cervix, the vaginal opening, testis, scrotum, etc.). Different types of birth control methods were discussed, as well as oral sex, and abstinence.

Female and male anatomy lesson with the first year students of the YMCA, Takoradi, Ghana.

Following this, we talked a lot about STIs. The students have been taught about HIV/AIDS extensively in the past so we wanted to focus more towards STIs, still touching on HIV. We discussed what STIs were, symptoms, how it is spread, testing procedures and treatment. Students worked in groups to review information about specific STIs and presented their findings to the rest of the class.  After this we talked about condom use. We explained how and why condoms are used, we talked about the female condom as well as the male condom. To be honest I have never seen a female condom until this workshop. They are quite interesting looking. Most students mentioned that the Condom portion of our workshop was their favorite. I think this was because each student had the opportunity to practice with a male and female condom on the appropriate props.

Female and male condom use with the students of the YMCA, Takoradi, Ghana.

Another big hit was the question box. We gave the students a chance to write down anonymously, any questions that they might have and did not ask because they maybe felt uncomfortable or embarrassed doing so in front of their peers and answered them to the best of our ability.

My favorite activity has been the Sexual Health Workshop, largely because many of the students had little knowledge about STIs. It was very rewarding to see them walk away feeling empowered and more confident in using female and male condoms.

I very much appreciate the support I have received from KFROG and believe that with their support more and more youth will become involved with young people from around the world.

– Melissa Spencer, Youth Leadership Team, Ghana 2011

Melissa is currently in Ghana on a 12-week project to complete her international placement for the International Development Post-Graduate Certificate Program at Humber College with a small team of students from the program. 

To learn more about KFROG, their events and initiatives, and whether you are eligible for KFROG funding, check out their website.

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