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BENIN: Volunteer Outreach Workers Dedicated to Adolescent Health

Close to 200 volunteer outreach workers (relais communautaires) trained by the PASSRELLE project have started working with youth in the Atlantic and Mono departments of Benin. Through prevention and health promotion activities, they make an important contribution to the improvement of sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls.

Active at the community level, these volunteers serve as a bridge between the populations and the health centers. Their role: to inform, raise awareness and motivate changes for better health. For PASSRELLE, which aspires to create an environment that facilitates the supply of and demand for youth-friendly health services, working closely with these outreach workers was therefore essential.

During their training, the volunteers were able to gather the knowledge and tools they need to offer guidance to young people, particularly adolescents aged 15 to 19, to inform them about their health and rights and the health services available to them as they go through a decisive period in their lives.

"Adolescence is not a disease: it is a phase of adaptation, and it is easier to adapt if we understand what is happening," said an outreach worker based in the Sô-Ava health zone.

The group trained under the PASSRELLE project has been proudly carrying out communication activities for social and behavioral change since August. Each worker is able to address a variety of themes centered on and adapted to young people, including sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, human rights and mental health. Their activities range from educational films and programs screening to group discussions, mass awareness-raising campaigns and the facilitation of parent-child dialogues on sexual and reproductive health.

Through their interventions, the Atlantic and Mono volunteer outreach workers are essential to the collective efforts geared towards strengthening adolescent girls' trust in health services and promoting respect for their rights, in both the healthcare and community settings.

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The PASSRELLE project, carried out in collaboration with BASP'96, is supported by Global Affairs Canada. Planned over a period of 3 years (2018-2021), it aims to improve the sexual and reproductive health and respect for the rights of more than 100,000 adolescent girls in the Atlantic and Mono departments of Benin.