Stories of Change: A Young Woman Looks Back at How Far She Has Come

Nhu-Hong was an early participant in the Healthy Initiatives Through Peer Education (HIPE) programme run by our recently sunsetted grantee partner VANGO in Hue, Vietnam. The programme provides vital health information using a peer education model, in a setting where young people would have little access to this information otherwise. In this reflection, Nhu-Hong shares a bit about her story—a testament to the potential of girls when they have the opportunity to lead.

“Going back to 2010, I was a very shy student who was afraid of everything relatedbto communication. Even sharing my opinion in class made me very scared. But luckily at that time, I was selected to be one of the first peer health educators of the HIPE programme. It was, and has been, a turning point in my life. And from that moment, my life has had many big changes that led me to a future that I never imagined.

At that time, the topic of reproductive health was very new to many. Some parents were really tense when discussing this topic; they thought this was too sensitive. However, at that time, there were very few such activities for young people to participate in. So, many students were very excited to participate in these health sessions. We talked about key topics such as gender equality and how to prevent child sexual abuse and gender-based violence. And we learned life skills such as problem solving, decision-making, and team building.

Nowadays, there are many sports clubs, school activities, and community activities for young people. This requires HIPE and peer health educators to always try to create new things to attract the attention of young people. That’s the lesson that I have learned from young people after many years of working with them: you always need to be able to learn and explore new things, adapt to your situation, and the many, many changes life brings.

Today, I’m a HIPE Coordinator. I assess the training needs of the peer health educators and manage the scheduling and communication of year-round training sessions for them.

Most of the things I know now come from HIPE. I have grown up and become more confident. This past year we held our first youth conference, supported by EMpower, and I had the opportunity to present in front of nearly 300 participants. I was excited to take part throughout the months of planning and especially during the three days of the conference.

Seeing the result that we achieved, I felt extremely proud. At this conference, we empowered young people to share, speak up, and take action on the problems that they or society care about, such as school violence, reproductive health, climate change, alcohol, and tobacco. Thank you, HIPE, for being a part of my youth. I look forward to continuing and expanding this meaningful work and empowering other young people in high-risk areas—to help them discover themselves.”


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