“My body and my rights”: exchange with the girls of the Hiheatro center of WAO-Africa

Girls rights Togo

Mahamadi Oubda

Sub-Saharan Africa


Read the biography
For more than 30 years, the dynamic and committed team of WAO-Afrique has been fighting for the rights and protection of children in Togo. As a PRIDE volunteer, I am delighted to be able to bring my experience to this organization, but also to learn more about the long and rich experience of WAO, whose reputation has crossed the borders of Togo.

During these first months of support to the WAO institution, I noticed that the challenges were numerous. However, the motivation of the members of this organization, boosted by the will of the highest authorities of the country and the support of PRIDE in particular, are likely to give hope for the well-being of children in Togo.

About WAO-Africa

WAO-Africa (WAO stands for World Association for Orphans and Abandoned Children) has been working since its creation for the promotion and protection of children’s rights in general and for the fight against all forms of child exploitation, in particular child labor and trafficking and sexual exploitation.

See WAO-Africa website

Increase girls' knowledge of their bodies and their rights in order to strengthen their self-protection.

On the morning of Wednesday, April 7, 2021, I conducted a sensitization and training session with the girls of the Hiheatro center of WAO-Afrique. This session was part of the sexual and reproductive health awareness week organized by the center's management staff.

What is the Hiheatro center?

The Hiheatro center - which means "the world has changed" in the Togolese language Evé - is a facility owned by the NGO WAO-Afrique that was created to provide temporary shelter for trafficked and exploited children to prevent them from being detained in police stations. The reception and protection center receives an average of 150 children per year, mainly girls between the ages of 8 and 17 who are victims of trafficking, smuggling, economic exploitation, neglect, abuse or sexual violence. The center is run by a multidisciplinary team of animators, social workers, health personnel, psychologists and several volunteers from the National Volunteer Program of Togo.

Course of the training

The theme of the activity was "My body and my rights". Before starting, a discussion session took place to sound out the girls on the interest of such a training and on the different topics to be addresse

Since the children do not speak French, the center's communications intern co-facilitated this session with me to translate the content. Several points were discussed, including issues related to g

irls' reproductive health and the change in their development between the ages of 10 and 14. Throughout the activity, short videos, images and exercises surrounding these themes were shared with the group. At the end of the day, the girls testified that they learned many things that will be useful to them in the future.

Some feedback from the girls who participated in the activity:

“This training allowed me to understand that girls who have their periods are not cursed”

“I understood that it is not because a girl has her period that she should seek marriage or have sex. She has to wait to be really ready.”

“I learned that a girl who has her period is not necessarily mature enough to carry a pregnancy.”

“I learned that a girl who is menstruating is not necessarily mature enough to carry a pregnancy.”

“I need to talk about the problems I have with someone to get help.”

Prior to this session, center staff were skeptical about the use of audiovisual equipment as a technical medium for this training. However, during the debriefing session, the team recognized the appropriateness of the methodology used (PowerPoint, films, questions, exercises, and a recap), which kept the girls engaged throughout the session.

"I was skeptical about the relevance of using the video projector, but after attending the training I see that the methodology is good and got the message across, especially the short films. It must be said that the theme is relevant for the girls we welcome because they did not have the opportunity to learn all this with their family. I have learned a lot myself and I am ready to put the method into practice," says AYIVI Mathias, the center's nurse.

Would you like to work with WAO-Afrique? 

Find out more about our open voluntary cooperation mandates




Volunteer cooperation program funded by Global Affairs Canada.