By Sharon Yendevenge, YWCA Papua New Guinea. Sharon recently attended her 1st ITI as an Intern with the World YWCA and she shares her views on her experience.
My journey to Africa started on the 16th of March 2014 from Geneva airport travelling to Arusha, Tanzania. It was a move to a completely different continent with different people and yes there I was. The small Arusha airport stood alone approximately a 45mins from my destination Naura Springs Hotel. We arrived late at night and although I felt tired, I was looking forward for the morning to officially start my African experience and to meet other sisters around the world.
The World YWCA first International training Institute for the year brought together many different people from varying countries to participate. The participants were mainly from different parts of Africa, but there were also representatives from Caribbean, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region. The first day began with presentations from partner organisations such as DSW, IPAS, ARROW and FERMET, and this was followed by heavy discussions from participants within their regional groups on various SRHR topics. One of the objectives of the ITI was to come up with a regional briefs for the regions represented. From the discussions, I noticed that regardless of government signing with the different treaty bodies to integrate SRHR in their countries, problems still exist in regards to poor health services, lack of information, information being too complex for persons to understand, less sensitivity training. In my regional group Asia and Pacific, it was observed that the Governments needs to increase health services and introduce mobile clinics for cases of emergencies, 24 hours hotline for Violence against women, train more health workers on SRHR services and also provide adequate health services for persons in rural areas. The availability and the use of contraceptives was another thing that was observed to be lacking. There needed to be greater access for women as it has been seen that many women don’t really know about using contraceptives other than the male condom. It was clearly seen that people are very often too shy to purchase condoms in public places because of stigma and discrimination that surrounds it. Other important issues such as abortion not been legalised in many countries and high maternal mortality rates were also discussed.
The day two ended with a very exciting cultural dinner, It showcased, dancing and singing from the various cultures and African tribes present.
I woke up the next day sunlight beaming through my bedroom and couldn’t help but smile as I knew this would be another adventurous day. I had the privilege to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The United Nations had built this court in Arusha, Tanzania especially to hear genocide cases. It was interesting to hear from the young African women on how the fights have affected them. In one way or the other, their parents, brothers and sisters, and relatives have experienced a great devastation in their lives, fleeing from war and enemies and ending up in neighbouring countries not knowing where they were going. Still today there are yet many untold stories as it can be painful to retell these stories. .
Heading back to the hotel I was so disturbed by the thoughts of innocent lives of women and children and even the men been killed. These bad memories were soon erased as the bus went off to a snake farm. The excitement I felt to get an opportunity to see the African snakes I often watch on television live in person couldn’t be explained. What made my day even more interesting was that it was also my first opportunity to ride on a camel. It was so interesting to see how the camel had to get up from the ground and then land. From up on top, I am sure I heard myself really screaming especially when the camel started to stand up. It was indeed a great experience for me and so the third day ended and the fourth day begun with a journey to DSW Centre in Arusha for another day of activities.
Overall, my ITI experience was magnificent and my time in Tanzania, Africa couldn’t have been better.