Workshop in Sierra Leone

Workshop brings together leaders in reproductive health

In July, Astarte held a regional workshop for West African NGO leaders in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sixteen leaders from Sierra Leone and Liberia discussed the challenges that face their communities—including the lack of public health facilities and the impact of poverty on women.

Participants also shared their visions and success stories. One group began a program to talk to couples about overcoming social stigmas surrounding HIV. Other leaders noted how they confronted similar issues facing their communities. The common ground provided an opportunity for leaders to share their experiences and lessons they have learned in addressing the needs of the community.

“The statistics show that there are only small differences between Sierra Leone and Liberia. I feel like this is a great area for collaboration, and sharing of expertise.”

Leader from Sierra Leone

The workshop aimed to support these leaders in building and strengthening national and regional networks. One such initiative is the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network in Sierra Leone (RHAN-SL) which emerged from the need to share health expertise, reach more communities, and collaborate both within the country and across borders.

All participants expressed the importance of sustainable partnership with one another and with international NGOs. The participants voiced the urgency of bringing reproductive health services to their people. In sharing their personal struggles, these leaders have become a testament to how visions can become realities.

As a facilitator, Astarte played the important role of providing the planning and funding to bring together these various NGOs that otherwise lack the financial resources needed to organize. The workshop became a gathering place for community leaders to candidly share ideas, challenges, and plans for the future.

Each initiative that was represented works to improve the reproductive health services in their communities. Some work to train traditional birth attendants in order to ensure safe deliveries for women in rural communities. Others work with community health workers to increase access to contraceptive methods and increase awareness about STI/HIV prevention. Many of these initiatives were past recipients of Astarte grants.

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