In January 2020 we visited IPPF EN’s Training of Trainers event in Brussels, a milestone in their Erasmus+ project. We spoke to some participants about their experience being involved in the project.
About IPPF EN and YSAFE
The International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) and its partners work in over 40 countries across Europe and Central Asia to empower everyone, especially the most socially excluded, to live with dignity and to have access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. They are based in Brussels.
YSAFE (Youth Sexual Awareness for Europe and Central Asia) is their youth network. In 2017 YSAFE launched their first Erasmus+ project, a Mobility of Youth Workers, to connect young people engaged in sexuality education across the European region and give them a structured space to pool their skills, boost new capacities and work on a new sexuality education curriculum.
Safe from SGBV
“Safe from SGBV” (sexual and gender-based violence) is YSAFE’s second project. It makes the most of Strategic Partnerships by setting up new partnerships between three national YSAFE groups and three other organisations working to support marginalized youth based in Portugal, Romania and Serbia.
The project aims to:
- raise the capacities of 18 young youth workers to train young people from particular vulnerable groups to protect themselves from SGBV;
- develop, pilot and disseminate a new non-formal education toolkit on SGBV safety, based on the needs of young people at risk coming from different countries.
In order to train these young people they set up two training events – a first one on designing the toolkit and a second one on the usage of the toolkit.
Training of Trainers event
From left to right: Tavares, Jo, Jasmina, Roya, Joana and Alice
After an intense day these six dedicated young people are still happy to talk to us about their project. Being there to represent not only their organisations but even their countries, they feel part of something bigger. And it gives them a sense of appreciation as “what we are saying here is all being taken into consideration in building the toolkit and in the whole project in general” says Jo. They are proud that what they are doing is something tangible, “more than just words” adds Alice. Tavares agrees: “We can see progress from what our expectations were in October [the first Training of Trainers event] and now seeing the toolkit come alive and having the chance to test it.”
I feel like I am part of something bigger than I am.
They reflect on the progress since the first Training of Trainers event: “The first stage was more about giving our own inputs and now we are also taking things home”, Tavares continues. Roya joins in, stating that it has been eye-opening to see that “in other countries there are other issues. Everyone is fighting their own problems and we need to see that everyone deals with difficulties.”
They go on to discuss the added value of doing this on an international level. Joana: “We’re all thinking about our own country and how our country works. But when you come outside of that and meet other people that have similar problems, or even not related problems, but we can use their ways to solve the problems within our country. It is the relations, the connections that it makes. I think that is the greatest thing that we can have.” Jasmina agrees: “The great thing about going international is that others can also use our toolkit to solve their problems with it and use it in their home countries, so it is very helpful too.” Alice adds that their organisations “each target different things but they all relate in a manner that is really interesting to see …”
It’s not just us learning, it’s also getting to know what is happening in other countries.
I feel that the widespread impact is much greater than if it was a national initiative.
We all start with human rights and end with human rights.
I think I’ve grown as a person
‘Happy’, ‘Useful’, ‘Proud’, ‘Grateful’, ‘Empowered’ – are some of the words they use to describe how they feel being part of such a project. Jo also mentions that they feel involved: “It’s really nice to be a part of that process and that change because … It’s not just happening. You’re an active part of it and you’re contributing to it.”
Full of enthusiasm Tavares continues: “We’re here, we’ve made something and now we’re going to test it. We’re going to show other people this really cool toolkit. We’re going to train other people to do the same and we’re also going to be able to have new facilitation skills and new workshops that we can deliver.” “That is the greatest thing about this project: not keeping the knowledge to ourselves but we pass it on.” Jasmina adds. Roya also mentions that they are going to try new things because it is so easy to feel inspired by the other organisations present.
Passing on all this knowledge to the young people we work with, I feel like that is the best part
The toolkit is being made by young people for young people but can be used by everyone. Tavares explains: “The toolkit is very well structured by topic, so if we want to tackle a certain issue we can look at the toolkit and be like ‘okay, this is our guide. And I think that will be very useful, not just for us but also for people working with us.” Jo joins in by saying that “it has a theoretical introduction to the activities, practical tips for facilitation, the objectives/messages of each activity… everything is very well explained.”
And to conclude the conversation Tavares shares with the others: “I would like to see this toolkit in a few years upgraded so that it is not just a thing that happens here. It would be nice to revise it and see it evolve.”