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Dispelling Myths with Laughter in Venezuela
Last month, several staff members from IPPF’s Central Office visited our Member Association, Asociación Civil de Planificación Familiar (PLAFAM), in Caracas, Venezuela. They went to familiarize themselves with and document the organization’s work as a pioneer in advocacy and the delivery of sexual and reproductive health services.
Venezuela has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in South America, and the stories IPPF staff heard from the young people in Caracas made this all the more apparent. Since 1986, PLAFAM has been patiently chipping away at the problem by providing comprehensive sexuality education, and one of its most successful initiatives emerged through a partnership with a local theatre company, Improvista.
In the process of seeking new and innovative ways to dispel myths about sex and sexuality among youth, PLAFAM collaborated with Improvista to create “Improsexual,” a comedy performance that features professional actors using jokes and laughter to convey serious messages about sexual and reproductive health. During a performance of “Improsexual,” audience members choose various topics related to sex and sexuality, and ten improvisational actors create a show on the spot that incorporates themes on that issue. Each show is unique, dynamic, and interactive – with a healthy dose of knowledge, too!
Some 22,000 young people have seen “Improsexual” since the project began in 2009. Sexologist and former PLAFAM staff member Michela Guarente is on hand at each show to give advice on ways to keep sexual activity safe without dampening desire. The fact that sexuality is about fun and pleasure is a central focus of “Improsexual” and adds to the show's success. The project also maintains an website that provides resources about topic like how to use various contraceptive methods and advice on maintaining healthy relationships.
PLAFAM's ability to adapt to new demands to bring create a healthier society demonstrates the strength of its programs and services. Its work plays a critical role in improving the sexual and reproductive health of all Venezuelans.