On a chilly Thursday morning, Thabo Phohleli is busy at the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association (LPPA) Thakaneng clinic, refilling condoms in the condom dispenser. Each day, he ensures that there is enough supply in the dispenser for those who will need them. As he does so, he chats with his friend Bahlakoana Malelu in a hearty conversation punctuated with warm laughter. The two are young volunteers with LPPA, and are passionate about empowering their fellow youth. You can read Bahlakoana's story here.
IPPF ARO's Maryanne W. Waweru spoke to Thabo about his volunteer experiences with LPPA.
“I joined LPPA’s youth volunteer programme (Youth Action Movement -YAM) in 2017. For about a year before then, I had been closely following the activities of the YAM peer educators in my home area. I liked what they did, and that’s when I decided to join.
Upon joining, I was trained as a peer educator and started participating in outreach activities. This involved going to schools and in the community where we talked to young people about their sexual reproductive health.
On most days, you’ll find me hanging out at the Thakaneng youth center together with my peers. At the youth-friendly corner, we participate in lots of fun activities, games and challenges and this helps keep us positively engaged during the day. We also learn a lot about our sexual health and when necessary, we seek youth-friendly services at the clinic. My participation in the youth center activities has helped me stay focused and keep out of trouble as a young person.
I am a very social person who loves talking and interacting with people. The activities that I participate in as a YAM member have helped strengthen my social networking skills and expand my social networks as I have gotten to interact with so many people in different forums. I have become more confident and I'm able to better express myself.
I have also found out something about myself -when people have problems, they tend to come to me. This is because I’m a good listener. I’m always happy to help young people going through difficult situations.
In addition to growing our leadership skills, LPPA gives young people the opportunity to learn certain life skills. For example, we once organized a fundraising campaign where we undertook a carwash activity. From this, we were able to raise funds that helped us cater for the expenses of some of our outreaches. We were also able to purchase and brand YAM t-shirts with the funds raised. This activity helped us learn about strategy, teamwork, respect for others’ opinions, communication and money management.
I am also involved in other LPPA programs, such as awareness creation of the Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC) program among men in the community and mobilizing them for respective services which are offered at LPPA’s Male Clinic in Maseru. Through my participation in the program, I have come to learn of the benefits of VMMC with regard to HIV prevention. This is information that I share with other men.
All the activities that I engage in as a volunteer with LPPA have helped me spend my time wisely and exert my energies in a positive way; helping other people."
Maryanne W. Waweru is the Governance and Compliance Officer, IPPF Africa Region.