Adolescent reproductive health educator: Cipriano Rivery

Eleonore Bridier Stories, Timor-Leste

I have been working with Marie Stopes Timor-Leste as a youth educator and hotline operator for almost six years. When I go into work, every day is different.

I am based in the capital city, Dili, and work in a team with five other male and female youth educators. Together we operate the National Youth Hotline ‘Lina Foin-Sae’. The hotline receives 100 – 200 calls per day, from young people all over the country.

Young people can call the hotline for free to ask questions about healthy relationships and sexual and reproductive health (SRH). In one day I will talk with young people about menstruation, sexually transmitted infections, contraception, wet dreams, and a wide range of other topics, including love. Everybody has their own questions and concerns that they want to talk about.

Sexual and reproductive health is a very sensitive topic to discuss in Timor, especially for young people, so we work hard to provide young people with a safe and confidential space where they can access good quality information and referral to services. For many, the hotline is the only place where they can access good quality and accurate information.

Along with working on the hotline, my team and I provide education and information at schools, youth groups and at community events all over the country. We travel with our outreach teams to difficult and hard to reach locations and try to be as inclusive and interactive as possible in our youth-engagement approach. If young people have follow-up questions or are too shy to ask in-person, we invite them to call the hotline and speak in private, for free. Our aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of all young people.

We work with a wide-range of young people, including young people with disability. Last year we started working with a school for young people with hearing disabilities. It was the first time I had worked with a signing translator, who was able to translate what I was saying into sign-language. I used a lot of visual education tools for that session also, and spent a long time answering the many questions from the group. It was a very rewarding experience for me, and has driven me to keep working towards increasing access to SRH information and services for young people with disability.

I am passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of my country, and I study public health when I’m not at work. Each day I know I am contributing to better health outcomes for my country. If young people are healthy, happy and in control of their own bodies and fertility, Timor-Leste will become stronger and more powerful as a country.

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