Students at University Colleges, like many other individual, suffer in silence when they have experienced Gender Based Violence or when they are struggling with a health issue.
Popular methods have used celebrities and other public figures to raise awareness on different health issues in many communities including among university students. However, no matter how popular a celebrity is, they still remain alien to the community where they are not part of. Their culture is different from the culture of the community where their music is used to reach out to masses. They do a once off performance and of they go leaving the community wondering as to when they will see them again.
Pamodzi approach uses a different and innovative approach where the community members become the developers and distributors of health messages in form of a song, drama and poems. A music workshop approach used by Pamodzi project aims to use raw talent from within the community. Artists who understand the norms of their community and how the negative norms can be changed using the proper language and nuances used in those communities. In September 2021, Pamodzi conducted one of such workshops at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR- Bunda campus) where students became developers and distributors of health messages “Say Something” was a theme for the workshop. Say Something is a call to fellow students to speak up whenever they face Gender Based Violence and/or when they face a pressing health issue.
You don’t have to be a musician or an artist to participate in a music workshop. We begin from an assumption that “People are capable of making correct health decisions when they are presented with correct information”. This is the story of Pamodzi project at Bunda Campus.
Data were gathered from a wider audience at Bunda Campus with an aim of understanding the level of knowledge of the students on issues of SRHR/HIV/GBV. The students asked questions on SRHR/HIV/GBV.
The management and the student selected 30 student representatives to participate in an education session where information on the SRHR, GBV and HIV was shared by those well versed with the topics. Questions were read back to the students for them to attempt answering. A clinician provided correct information. Each student wrote one positive message each to share with the rest of the students at their institution.
Students with support from the project team and health workers, put their messages into a song lyric.
Students with support from the project team sang their messages and IFC recorded them with a mobile recording studio.
Students organized an open day where all other students were invited. The 30 students performed their song live to their fellow students.
The story of students developing positive messages themselves and take part in dissemination is a story of community empowerment. Unlike a famous artist who comes once to perform, now the message stays with real people within the campus who become everyday inspiration.
“I was happy to see my own college mates composing songs with health messages and performing the same before us all. I could identify myself with the message in the song. I now feel more energized to reveal any GBV experiences I might face”. Said one student who opted for anonymity at the end of the workshop.