The Story Workshop
Educational Trust - SWET

Padiwa Sasewera

Padiwa Sasewera

The Story Workshop Educational Trust implemented a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) project known as Protect and Respect. The project adopted an edutainment approach using varied modes of communication in the form of radio magazine and feedback through Short Message Services, phone calls and interaction through social media (face book

Other ways included Theatre for Development (Participatory drama in which the actors and audience interact in the process of message dissemination) to address community felt issues on SRHR issues among the youths and young adults.   

The project’s pilot phase started in two districts in Southern Malawi-Machinga and Mulanje in 2012 with four Radio Listeners’ Clubs (RLCs) that were established. These RLCs were trained in Theatre for Development, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights as well as RLC management. This pilot phase was followed by a one year phase from September 2012 to September 2013; a period in which activities scaled up to four other districts namely: Lilongwe, Salima, Mzimba and Nkhatabay.   During this phase, 2 RLCs per district were established and trained just like the ones established in 2012, totalling to 12 RLCs since the project inception.

As the project continued, the year 2014 had several activities. Among others two of the RLCs established in 2013 (Salima -Mchoka and Chipoka) underwent SRHR ,TfD RLC management training after which they developed quarterly outreach implementation plans and started to function.

 In general these RLCs conducted door to door outreach campaigns on one on one basis as an advocacy to propel more youths access SRHR services at their health centre as well as any health service of their choice. Apart from this the RLCS performed Theatre for Development (TfDs) within and neighboring communities. The Story Workshop monitored progress of these RLCs through volunteer reports as well as RLC Outreach Monitoring Tool as a means to verify that  the RLCs had indeed performed , number of people that turned up and local leadership that graced the events.

To add on, SWET followed up with Health Centres’ personnel of the sites where some referral letters were also traced. By tracking referral letters devised by SWET (that did not bear clients’ name for confidentiality) was an additional monitoring mechanism that youth that were reached out had in retrospect managed to eventually access a SHR service from a Health Centre.

In 2014, the RLCs mostly performed independent of SWET such that the organization monitored clubs’ performance through RLCs reports of the key activities aforementioned.

There were two separate events of these open days, held at Mchoka and Chipoka at venues close to the Health Centres in Salima district:














The activities were in form of an information market in regards to what services are provided by health service providers. There were services like Health Testing and Counselling (HTC), Family Planning services provision, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) apart from displays and showcases of the RLCs youth activities(including other youths activities in the locality).

The open days hence provided a chance for young people to interact among themselves and their adults apart from discuss with people in health service delivery at their Government Health Centre in addition to service deliverers with private civil society organizations that offer SRHR services within reach. Other youth groups were also invited to share what they do themselves on SRHR in an open manner.

Local leaders that were invited to the forum facilitated verification of SRHR issues among the youths and young adults in their locality, consequences of unhelpful behaviors so that they unanimously arrived at a communal decision to act for change. In order to make their decisions binding the community with their leadership agreed on a local bye law. The project further promoted and advocated for safe motherhood with the aim of protecting young pregnant women thus contributing to a healthy and vibrant youth.

Upon being trained in TfD by SWET and SRHR by health centre personnel, the RLCs developed a three month action plan that indicated which villages they would reach out. The volunteers wrote records of people’s turn up to their meeting, including local leadership. Moreover , the participation of local leaders up was vital to allow for the local bye laws’ follow up since traditional leaders are the custodians of culture and tradition. The RLCs had activity forms that showed where they performed how many people turned up (segregated into youths and adults) as well as signature of one traditional leaders who had graced the event.

Apart from TfDs the volunteers conducted one on one / interpersonal communication to further advocate for youth and young adults to demand and access SRHR services. Whenever a youth was convinced to access a SRHR service by a fellow youth, a referral form was used to be taken by the client to the health service (without disclosure of actual service or name). These referral forms were used to track access to SRHR services by health centre personnel who eventually had to provide report both to the RLC and SWET.

These two clubs had managed to facilitate establishment of other self initiated 4 Community Based Groups (CBG). These budding theatre groups were provided basic skills in message dissemination and they too started performing jointly with the Story Workshop RLCs mentor these. In addition to taking part during the open days, these CBGs contributed to more youths access to information on SRHR such that they played a trickledown or multiplier effect of RLCs outreach to the wider community. These CBGs participated on the open days through traditional dances, drama and poetry message dissemination on SRHR.