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Reaching People Where They Are
If you go to Michelle’s beauty salon in Georgetown, Guyana, you might leave with more than a new hairstyle. Inside the small shop, the walls are covered in posters about gender-based violence, and bowls full of female and male condoms are free for the taking.
Michelle, who is a volunteer with our local Member Association, the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), first became interested in sexual and reproductive health and rights at her church. “They said we couldn’t talk to kids about condoms,” said Michelle. “But I said, ‘We all have to live in the world, the good and the bad, and that means we can’t only teach one side of things.’ So, I began to bring information and condoms to teenagers in [the church’s] youth program.”
Realizing she could do more to help her community, Michelle began to talk to her beauty salon patrons about sexual and reproductive health and provide referrals and vouchers for GRPA clinics. Often, gay or lesbian clients talk to her about the discrimination they face. Many women confide in Michelle about the abuse they experience at home. Others seek basic health information, which Michelle provides, in addition to lively condom demonstrations.
“If people ask me about things I don’t know, I will take their number and do a follow up with GRPA,” said Michelle. “There are so many clients that I refer to GRPA. If a person wants to do family planning economically, she needs to go somewhere that she can afford. That’s why, for me, GRPA is doing a good thing.”