When it comes to educating children about their reproductive health rights, Daphrose Nyirasafari said parents take the upper hand, right in their homes.
Daphrose Nyirasafari is UNFPA Rwanda Programme Officer for Sexual and Reproductive Health and is a mother of two daughters and a son.
The 46-year-old eloquent advocate encouraged parents to become the pioneers of their children’s reproductive health education.
“When I took on the initiative on Reproductive Health Services and Rights, I discovered that as parents, we ought to inform teenagers and the youth in our homes. Youth get involved in social vices because they are ignorant,” Nyirasafari said.
She also said that parents have the moral right to interact and educate their children about their body changes at the right age.
“We have to talk to our children about each stage they go through at different ages. Sex education is important and it’s the parent’s role to instill this knowledge. I know it’s not an easy task because our culture considers publically talking about sex as a taboo. But parents should know that if they don’t teach their children, then they are bound to get wrong information from the wrong places and wrong people,” Nyirasafari explains.
In a phone interview with 18-year-old Christelle Kwizera, daughter to Nyirasafari, she said that her mother is her best friend with whom she shares everything.
“When my mother talked to us about our reproductive health, I became a little shy because it was a sensitive topic but she first made sure I was comfortable to talk. She even went as far as showing documentaries about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. It was quite scary, but I learnt that I have to do everything I can to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases,” Kwizera explains.
Kwizera is currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering at Oklahoma Christian University.
“Some of my friends at school ask me for advice on reproductive health and I tell them what to do based on the knowledge I got from my mum. She is also a great inspiration and a great advocate of women empowerment. She always encourages me to work hard and learn how to be independent so that I can also uplift other girls,” Kwizera expresses.
As a child Nyirasafari always admired and wanted to become a doctor so that she could save lives.
“Every time I would go to hospital with my mother, seeing how the nurses and doctors were smart and how they tried to take care of people, I felt strongly about becoming a doctor or nurse some day. Although I don’t practice like I had expected, I don’t regret because what I do today is in the line of saving life,” Nyirasafari says.
She pursued a Bachelors Degree in Demography at Kigali Independent University before she attained a Masters in Public Healthy at the School of Public Health Kicuciro, which is part of the National University of Rwanda.
She said: “I’m so happy that Rwanda is progressing in terms of health and meeting the Millennium Development Goals. But we still have so much to do so as to meet our targets set by 2015. For example we need to have reduced maternal death, so that no Mother should die while giving a life.”
Nyirasafari said that access to family planning services empowers women and also save lives.
“Its important to ensure access to voluntary family planning in order to reduce maternal deaths by a third and child deaths by 20 percent. This is something we are supposed to work really hard towards achieve against all the barriers,” Nyirasafari emphasized.
She also said that health providers need the right knowledge and competence so that they are able to provide quality family planning services and increase long-term contraceptive programmes.
“I will live as the happiest woman in the world if there is no mother dying while giving birth,” Nyirasafari concludes.