Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Friday, November 04, 2005

Female Teen Workshop Day 2

On November 1st we held the second workshop day for the teenage girls at St. Andrews. Last week we talked about menstruation, female anatomy, and health, while this session dealt with male/female anatomy, sex, drugs, and HIV/AIDS. These sessions are SO HELPFUL for these girls! Most of them have never heard this information before--the ignorance is just saddening! I discovered in the African culture, you are a virgin so long as you still have your hymen. So, you can 'get pregnant' and still have your 'virginity' and be suitable for marriage, but if your hymen is broken, oh man, that's grounds for divorce right away! In Upper Egypt, actually, on the wedding night the man will break the hymen and expect the woman to bleed on a white sheet. The couple then hangs the sheet out of their bedroom window or door so that the family members (who are all there waiting) can see she is a virgin. Apparently you can now have surgery to 'fix' your hymen after it has already been broken so that you are a virgin once more; and this is done all the time! Another thing--most girls have undergone circumcision because they should not have the right to desire sex so much---because it would attract the men too much. It’s so sick it makes me ill.
When we discussed HIV/AIDS one girl asked, “Is AIDS like other diseases or does it mean that God is very unhappy with us?” Oh, no. This poor girl fears God so much that she believes the Lord is out to punish her. To talk about HIV/AIDS prevention we pulled out a condom and showed it to the girls. This was a bit of shock to them; it was even the first time my translator teacher had ever seen a condom. When she opened the package she gave a little shriek as she felt how ‘slimy’ it was. When Mary Anne pulled out a female condom the girls were beyond bewildered. The Sudanese women, by culture, cannot use contraceptives, and the idea of a woman taking that much control of her sexuality was too much for them. We quickly got rid of the female condom, but continued to express the need to protect from AIDS as much as possible. One girl said a brother and sister took a bath together and then the girl was pregnant—how did that happen? Oh, man.
One student, a girl from Ethiopia who attended a private school in her home country, told me after the session that it was so helpful for her! She did have these types of talks in her old school, but this time she was “less shy” and more comfortable listening and asking questions. That was so good to hear, especially from a girl who HAS heard a lot of this information—I can only imagine how it can help the majority of our students who didn’t have a clue. In fact, our office manager pulled me aside later on and asked what was going on in the conference room, because he overheard a group of girls say they were so thankful for the workshop and something “moved” them. Yeah God!
November 25: I sent a questionnaire around the classrooms to get some feedback about the workshops. When I asked what more they would like to know one person said, "I just like to know more about other things; about the trouble of life and health, diseases and how to protect ourself and how to be good people" and another said, "First of all thank you to teach us what we dont' know we get a good idea about it. If we take another class like this depnding on drugs also we get a good concept."


  • At 11/08/2005, Anonymous Matthew Sawatzky said…

    Hello Sarah,
    This is such a coincidence... I really didnt expect to find anything about SARM when i googled it. The reason i googled SARM is that I might be volunteering there for 3-4 months starting in January 2006. Actually I have 2 volunteer options to choose from and was doing some last minute research in both of them. From your blogs it sounds like your enjoying the work at SARM.
    Are you working through MCC? Or how did you find yourself working with SARM? I'm a student at Canadian Mennonite University located in Winnipeg Manitoba, and am about to graduate with a degree in International Development studies, but first i need a practicum. I would really like to hear what you say about SARM, it sounds awesome.
    What kind of work do you do mostly, how big of an organization is it, how many other volunteers are there, living conditions?...etc.
    maybe these questions are answered in previous blogs so i'll read through them after i send this out. Do you know Miriam Harder? She was my contact for this practicum, she volunteered with SARM a few years ago.
    Anyway, i'm so glad i found your blog it should help greatly with the decision making process!

    Matthew Sawatzky

  • At 11/08/2005, Blogger Sarah said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker