If you take the time to visit the Adolescent Reproductive Health Peer Educators Club, the following sight will meet your eyes: a blue banner reading “ARH-PEC” beckons students to enter an empty classroom with wooden armchairs. Tacked on the wall outside is the message: “ARH—It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS but no one should die of ignorance.” Hanging from the door frame is this commitment: “Adolescent Reproductive Health: Says NO to Pre-Marital Sex.” Indeed, the teachers and students behind this club mean business.
When asked about the problems their schoolmates and people their age are up against, Rondel points out belonging to gangs in addition to early pregnancy. Peer Educator Ma. Elena B. Concon mentioned students showing rebellious behaviour. And the root problem of it all? Family problems—or more specifically, the lack of attention parents give their children.
Adolescents want to open up to their parents, but when that seems next to impossible, it becomes all the more crucial to have a support system in school. “Kasi hindi po lahat ng magulang open. Example po, magshare ka po about love, then yung parents mo, magagalit, ay wag muna dyan, ganyan, ganyan. Then parang yung heart mo, nabe-break kasi kung kailan mo sila kailangan, hindi po sila handa,” shares Rondel. He however adds: “Siguro po gusto nila na magkaroon po kami ng magandang buhay sa future naming. Yung iba po, hindi po maganda yung experience nila in the past kaya hindi po nila gusto na mangyari rin po yun sa amin.” And understanding that makes these students all the wiser. It is this level of understanding that we want our youth to gain— and also the hope that more and more families will begin to look at their children as those very much in need of their care.