Host: Welcome to the Indigenius podcast, a podcast series using creative oral storytelling to
document and share real-life experiences of grassroots family planning leaders in Nigeria and
the Republic of Niger, with the aim of facilitating knowledge exchange and highlighting what
works and what doesn’t in reproductive health programming. I am your host, Seyi Bolaji.
It’s another episode, and today we travel to the town of Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State, Northern
Nigeria. Where we share the story of our youth champion, Koni Wendy Barka. This is Konnih’s
story, come with me.

Hi, my name is Koni Wendy Barka, I am 30 years old from Northern Nigeria, Kaduna State,
Ngoboro to be precise. I work in different communities, majorly on sexual reproductive health
and rights and family planning being that there is a high rate of adolescent pregnancy with
young girls engaging in transactional sex in my area.
My heart always breaks whenever I see girls, young girls mostly from indigent homes having to
drop out of school and take menial jobs such as roasting yam, POS stands, etc while catering for
an infant and these realities ignited my passion to advocate for sexual and reproductive health
and rights for women and girls because I understood it was the lack of knowledge that led more
of them to where they are.

In 2009 as a newly trained sexual and reproductive health rights advocate by the United Nations
Population Fund, I decided to carry out something like a covert operation and I went to this
family planning wing in a primary health care centre because before this experiment, during one
of my advocacy visits to the government body, there were conversations around how service
providers are being trained to be professional when handling cases of young people seeking
services. But I was shocked by the lack of professionalism of the health provider I encountered.
And when I met this service provider in her office with my little nephew, I told her that I just
needed information about family planning. While having our conversation or rather while our
conversations were ongoing, she had her friend in the office which was the first red flag. Like
why would you have somebody in the office when you are administering a family planning
service?
She spoke about the different types of family planning and the methods but one thing that
struck me was her terminologies. She kept on using, ‘if you and your husband’, ‘if you want to
do it, then I bluntly told her that I was unmarried and just having sex with my boyfriend and her
friend behind me made a sound. Her face was so judgemental all through the conversation.
Afterwards, I thanked her and I left. Honestly at that point even as an adult, because I was 27 at
that time. I remember feeling judged because the atmosphere was uncomfortable and I could
only imagine how an 18-year-old or a 15-year-old would feel in that situation. And at that point,
I decided to organize training, and sensitizations, using my organisation, Beulah Future leaders
Foundation, with support from organizations like Beulah, United Nations Population Fund and
Education as a Vaccine, to spread the gospel of sexual reproductive health and family planning
targeting teenagers and young adults.

We created safe spaces programs to discuss issues around bodily autonomy, and reproductive
health and subsequently established a friendly relationship with some health care providers
wherein we link teenagers seeking services with them. We also advocate to the government for
the training and retraining and also monitoring of these health care practitioners for better
service delivery. We have also engaged parents by training them on the norms and attitudes
that hinder young girls’ knowledge of sexual reproductive health.

Currently, we are developing a program targeted at young girls that engage in transactional sex
to provide them with sexual reproductive health information, negotiation skills and family
planning commodities to make sure that they protect themselves because the truth is that most
of them engage in these activities for various reasons. Those whom we can help, we help them
start a trade, and go back to school if they wish to. But for those who do not want to change, we
help them stay protected because their job makes them very vulnerable to a lot of diseases and
unplanned pregnancies.
My experience in this field and various interventions have made me continually search for ways
that you girls in communities like Jaruwa, Bakaruwa, and communities like these where most
people from our field have not gotten to. This is why I want to take these messages to them. My
goal is that I want to spread this sexual reproductive health and rights gospel so that no girl will
lack information about her body and how to prepare herself if and when she wants to be
sexually active.

I want us to collectively continue to urge the government to include sexual reproductive health
and right education into the school curriculums because that topic is important. Because most
times when I go for these training and I speak to them about SRHR and give them the in-depth
knowledge, it’s as though they know nothing about it. This is why it must be included in the
school curriculums.
They should also establish youth-friendly centres where trained youths will administer services
and information. I believe that it will be more effective because it will be by youths for youths.
Let’s also stop the holier-than-thou attitudes that we always portray, which make us feel that if
young people are informed about SRHR, they would start to have sex. They still engage in sex
without SRHR information.
So please let us help our teenagers, I am tired and truly sad when I see a young girl roaming the
streets, looking helpless, pregnant and looking dejected and feeling as if all hope is lost for her
future. Thank you.

Host:Wow! This is really powerful Koni.
Service providers must be trained on confidentiality to enable young people to feel safe
accessing these facilities. Investing in adolescent girls by educating them on sexual and
reproductive health is important.
Dear listener, we want to hear from you, what have you learned from today’s story? Please
share your comments and questions in the chat box.

Thank you for listening to the Indigenius podcast.
This podcast is brought to you by Strong Enough Girls’ Empowerment Initiative in partnership
with the Young Ambassadors for Reproductive Health and Family planning network in Niger. It is
made possible by the support of the American People, through The Pitch season 2, a
competition co-sponsored by the US Agency for International Development(USAID) and the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The pitch is created and managed by the knowledge success project with Johns Hopkins
University. Information provided in this podcast is the sole responsibility of Strong Enough Girls’
Empowerment Initiative and the Young Ambassadors for Reproductive Health and Family
planning network and does not necessarily represent the views of USAID, the Bill and Melinda
Gates foundations, the US government or John a Hopkins University.
The featured soundtrack is by Advance Universe. Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to the Apple
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If you like today’s episode, like, rate, review, download or share. Follow the Indigenius podcast
on Instagram @Indi.genius_podcast.
I n d i.g e n i u s_poIcast
Thank you for listening

ACTION PLAN
1. There are still communities where the message of reproductive health and family
planning are yet to get to, the federal and state government should ensure that
adequate measures for intervention be made for every community so that adequate and
right information will be available to everyone.
2. The government should include SRHR education in schools.
3. Youth-friendly centers where trained youths are employed to administer services and
give information should be established

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