Image by SKIP
Words by Alice Clifford
All across the globe people are struggling and suffering with a multitude of different issues. War, illness, poverty, racism and unjust persecution are just a few. From a privileged perspective I cannot even imagine the hardships a devastatingly high number of people face day to day.
One huge issue in many countries, which can be at the root of many other problems, is a lack of education. Through censorship of teaching, lack of resources, the inability to go to school, or just a simple deficit of knowledge, it is impossible for people to progress and protect their communities. Due to these issues, many people lack the knowledge of important aspects of life, such as puberty, sex and relationships – information that many of us take for granted. Without this essential education, many people struggle to navigate safely through life. For example, without this education people are left to suffer from:
- Sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV
- Abusive relationships
- Restrictions due to periods – such as the inability to attend school
SKIP is a student led charity that organises volunteers to teach lessons about sex, relationships, and global health to communities in Zambia for four weeks in June/July. Their aim is to:
“Develop and maintain sustainable, community-based projects aimed at improving the health, education and welfare of vulnerable children”
While SKIP has branches all across the UK, Cardiff focuses on sexual health and the stigma that surrounds menstrual hygiene – a natural element of a girl’s life that even in the UK still carries taboo undertones. One example of how they do this is by teaching girls, women, boys and men to make reusable sanitary towels. Through this project SKIP has:
- Taught girls about menstrual hygiene
- Reduced stigma by normalising periods through including boys in the conversation (something that still needs to be improved in the UK)
- Inspired women to make businesses out of selling their handmade sanitary towel
While organising these interventions to students from the age of 10-18 in schools located in rural areas of Zambia, they also work with teachers to improve their understanding on these topics so they can continue teaching when the volunteers have left.
It is clear that education is at the heart of SKIP’s mission, therefore it is imperative that their information and resources are up to date and relevant. In order to do this, SKIP works tirelessly to collect information on sexual health issues throughout the year, which then dictates what they teach in schools. By doing this, they ensure that the education they are providing is more specific to tackling the challenges the community is facing in that moment. For example, a huge issue around education in places such as Zambia is accessibility. In one of SKIP’s blog posts (which I fully recommend exploring), they reference an inspirational talk by one of the charity’s trustees Jane Ferma. She highlights the shocking reality of many girls around the world by saying:
“Can you imagine: you wake up one day, 14 years old, and you can’t go to school. Not because you feel unwell or because you don’t want to go, but because you have started menstruating.”
Sadly, this is just one example of the multitude of obstacles in the way of girls who just want an education.
By volunteering with SKIP, you will be able to inspire, educate and help those who have so much potential but are obstructed by seemingly simple obstacles.
For more information on what they do and how to get involved take a look at their website: