13-year-old Baraka ( not his real name) called the helpline seeking advice on sexual reproductive health. He wanted to understand the various issues related to puberty and sexual relationships and the right age to start engaging in sexual activities.
The counselor praised Baraka for being proactive and seeking out such information because that is not the norm for boys his age, especially in the Tanzanian culture.
The counselor had a lengthy discussion with Baraka on various issues concerning puberty starting from the changes his body would undergo and the feelings that are involved with those changes. The counselor also talked him through the effects of early sexual relations and advised him to wait until he was the appropriate age to engage in sexual acts.
The counselor explained that rushing to have sexual relations could result in diseases and early pregnancies that could risk his education and future. They also discussed the different alternative ways of abstinence and how he could protect himself and future partners from sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS. The conversation went well and Baraka hopefully got what he needed from us and he assured us that he would call again if he had more questions and that he would encourage his friends to do so as well.
Puberty is often a confusing time for children, it comes with a combination of physical and mental challenges. It's the duty of parents, caregivers, and teachers to help children transition through this period successfully by establishing an open flow of communication to help them express what they are going through and the normalcy of it.