By Nabilla Musri (YES 2014-2015, Indonesia, hosted by ACES in Raleigh, NC)
My YES alumni grant project, Sexual Risk Avoidance for a Better Young Life, was a comprehensive sex education program developed by our team of Indonesian YES alumni and funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Conducting this project was important to me because, in Indonesia, adolescents often do not have access to information on sex education. Discussion of these issues is considered taboo, yet people are still having sex without knowing the risks. My team and I conducted this project to facilitate open discussion and provide students the opportunity to ask questions to the experts we invited.
Our project targeted 350 high school students ages 15 to 18 from rural areas of Jatinangor in West Java. The program’s topics included sexual reproductive systems, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex and birth control, sexual transmitted diseases, and consent. The objective of the project was to provide education to reduce the frequency of sexually transmitted diseases and teen marriage. We began promoting the project in August 2018 with infographics on Instagram, and our seminar was held on September 29, 2018 at SMK Darul Fatwa School.
Dr. Ruslina Defi, a medical doctor, and psychologist Dr. Zahrotur Rusyda Hinduan served as the seminar trainers. We also partnered with the Center for Indonesian Medical Students’ Activity at Universitas Padjajaran, a non-profit organization of medical students whose goal is to actively improve the health of Indonesians through their activities in the community. Program activities included a talk show, panel discussion, and question and answer session.
We were impressed with the enthusiasm of the students and their willingness to learn about something considered very taboo in our society. Pre- and post-event questionnaires revealed a sharp increase in students’ understanding of program topics after the seminar.
Our project successfully met its objective to promote better understanding about sex and sexual health for the students in this community. Hopefully, this project can be implemented in other regions of Indonesia for a wider impact on reducing teenage pregnancy and STDs in Indonesia.
I want to extend my thanks to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the YES Program, the Indonesian YES Alumni Association, AFS, Bina Antabudaya, our guest experts and partners, and the YES alumni on our project team.