In partnership with Cricket Builds Hope (CBH), Health Development Initiative (HDI) – an independent, non-profit organization that strives to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare for all Rwandans – is running a programme that aims to deliver workshops for girls and boys aged 11 to 15. ALSO READ: Sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental human rights Their objective is to improve their knowledge on how best to make appropriate and informed sexual and reproductive health and rights choices. Cricket Builds Hope is a charity that uses cricket, and the spirit of the game, as a tool for positive social change in Rwanda. The programme which will run for one year relies on a combination of workshops and cricket game sessions to encourage sexual and reproductive health and rights engagement and cement learning, monthly ‘safe spaces’, as well as awareness campaigns. The first cohort of students enrolled in the programme was a group of students selected from Group Scolaire Gahanga. Held at the Gahanga Cricket Stadium, the seven-week sessions involve training programme workshops on puberty and hygiene, sexuality and rights, relationships, communication and consent, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV/AIDS and contraception. Additionally, the workshops include a two-hour cricket session held once a week and later, a cricket festival at Gahanga Cricket Stadium. ALSO READ: Education: HDI commits to help bridge gap in reproductive health information The workshops are run by HDI’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) experts and CBH’s facilitators, held in multiple small groups (bubbles) to enable them to learn and teach other students in the future. At the end of each cohort, an evaluation of the knowledge increment is conducted on various topics relating to sexual health and rights and integrated into cricket games. Ange Mutoni, an adolescent SRHR program officer at HDI, said that using cricket to educate is an innovative social and behavioural change activity that can be used to engage adolescents to inspire reflection and dialogue on sexual reproductive health. She said: “At HDI, we know that adolescence represents a critical window of opportunity where young people learn to make independent decisions and form their own attitudes and beliefs. “This partnership is a good opportunity to fill a critical information gap and equip young adolescents with the ability to navigate challenges and opportunities during puberty.” The director of Cricket Builds Hope, Will Hammond, said the collaboration offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness and support the dissemination of key SRHR-related information to adolescents. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises the growing contribution of sport to the empowerment of women and young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives. The first cohort of 60 adolescents graduated in early January. The process to recruit the next cohort is ongoing. “Cricket is beyond being a sport. Like many other sports, it has a natural affinity to attract young people and bring together different stakeholders to collaborate in raising awareness of some of the challenges that our communities face, and to help source solutions,” Hammond said. ALSO READ: HDI hosts 4th annual adolescent conference on sexual and reproductive health and rights In July 2022, the fourth edition of the Annual Adolescent Conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) concluded in Kigali with a renewed call from adolescents to the government to remove barriers that continue to make SRHR services hard to access. Regional lawmakers are considering a draft law meant to protect and facilitate the attainment of sexual and reproductive health and rights of people in the East African Community (EAC). The Bill aims to promote women’s health and safe motherhood across the region in addition to making provisions for adolescent reproductive health rights. ALSO READ: EAC sexual and reproductive health bill in final consultations The idea was first introduced about six years ago, by a former Rwandan representative at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Dr Odette Nyiramirimo. Lawmakers and other regional stakeholders such as HDI are pushing for it to be passed and enacted as soon as possible. During a consultative session in Kigali, in June 2022, Bishop John Rucyahana, the President of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), said the bill is good “in the sense that it removes some obscurities in relation to the management of our society as far as the future is concerned.” “Being in a changing world, we must prepare society so that it can ably wrestle with challenges of the future. This bill therefore is good, even though there remain a few things to rectify so that it does not hamper anything in terms of culture, humaneness, and human dignity,” Rucyahana said.