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*An area of growth could be engaging the community and especially the women on content that they feel is stigmatized. Their needs and what they want to learn about is key to the success of this program.

To further define the activities the theater group will conduct (performances, key messaging, community engagement, discussion groups etc.), we will work with counselors, teachers, women and youth groups in the community. They will help designing key messaging through discussion groups, ensuring the content of the theater is appropriate, culturally-relevant and engaging. In training the FCHV’s and teachers, we will keep in mind the input from the FGDs, the experience map and our previous best practices. Understanding the needs of both the parents and the children, in terms of societal pressures and how to deal with these sensitive issues, is extremely important and will be done through a series of informal FGDs hosted by our counselors currently in the field.

Accountability for Affected Populations: IsraAID ensures the strong and consistent involvement of beneficiaries and national partners in the decision-making process. Feedback and complaint mechanisms are included in each project and the whole organization. Participation mechanisms are in place throughout the project cycle to ensure inclusiveness, accountability and transparency. IsraAID places strong emphasis on accountability to affected individuals with disability, ensuring their full participation in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project.

Gender-sensitivity: IsraAID’s approach fully reflects the specific needs of women, men, girls, boys, people with disability, the elderly, pregnant and lactating women, displaced/host communities and other vulnerable groups. Gender and vulnerability assessments are conducted for each project.

*Have you considered challenges related to how to publicly address people on SRH needs? Getting the community leaders on board with this even during disasters is important. IsrAID seems to have an already robust program in Nepal. I would love to see this type of programming of tearing down stigma paired with a program that provides SRH services to the women

The backbone of this program is to create a platform whereby we can openly dialogue on sensitive and stigmatized issues. Using theater as a mode of communication allows for the audience to relate to the characters, speak about the issues raised in a theoretical manner, and connect to the situation without the need to publicly speak about specific circumstances in which they find themselves. Especially for younger children who may not know how to approach this issue, the theater team will act out successful means of handling difficult situations, providing solutions through the script, and utilizing appropriate communication techniques. Before any performance is scheduled a process of speaking with community leaders and Headmasters of schools is embarked upon with our counselors and sensitized members of society who can help in their own words explain why such a project is necessary and beneficial for their community.

*It would be interesting to see if there was research on if the end users see this as important.

While our current programs utilizing theater and FCHV’s in the seven targeted districts do not focus specifically on SRHR, they do look at stigmatized mental health problems such as suicide and depression. Through this process, we have been able to identify almost 2,000 cases of individuals in immediate need of mental health support services, and have created dialogues around these difficult issues in schools and rural communities with great success. The children whom we have interviewed following the theater programs always speak about how interesting, informative and engaging the plays were and how they learned from this mechanism. This level of personal engagement with the material is exactly why we believe incorporating an SRH focus into this structure will be successful.
In the recently-held Focus Group Discussion which included counselors and FCHV’s, a case study came up showing this exact scenario. A young girl had been abused continuously by her uncle but had nowhere to turn for help. Our theater group came to her school, and she felt emboldened to speak with one of the female health volunteer. With the consent of the survivor, she put her in touch with one of the counselors, and together, identified a support plan.

*Application in Sierra Leone:

Role playing and story telling are important pillars of Sierra Leonean culture. Such components could be easily and effectively integrated into our existing GBV and women empowerment programs .

Many thanks for your comment! We will be very happy to keep you updated and also learn more about your activities and model.

Many thanks ACISDA for your comment. I agree, the theater sessions will be conducted according to age groups, taking into full consideration the specific needs of adult women, men, youth girls and boys under 18 - with a particular emphasis on adolescent girls (12-18). Messaging will be developed accordingly to reflect the needs of each demographic group.