Feature Story

Y–Peer Coordinator Shares Messages of Health and Well-Being to New Friends in Gobi Altai

12 October 2016

Meet Sosorbaram, 22, a Y-Peer member from Gobi Altai who is helping other young people learn more about sexual and reproductive health.

Through the Youth Development Programme, the UNFPA, the Government of Mongolia, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Government of Luxembourg, and Oyu Tolgoi LLC have established 16 Youth Development Centres (YDCs) throughout the country to provide young people with opportunities for training and coaching on life-skills; peer counseling; information on and services in sexual and reproductive health; and support in education, communications and psychology; all while in a fun, safe and nurturing environment. These YDCs have since reached hundreds of youth between the ages 15-35, from different circumstances and with different challenges, often in under-served communities, and have helped set them on the path to positive personal development, empowerment and advocacy. The "Young Voices" series documents their experiences and shares their stories.

It’s not always easy to be the person at school talking about matters of sexual and reproductive health, but the Y-Peer network in Gobi Altai understands just how important it is.

The Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER) is a groundbreaking and comprehensive youth-to-youth initiative pioneered by UNFPA*. Y-PEER is an efficient and effective means of promoting youth participation in issues relevant to them, such as sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS awareness, and leading healthy and safe lifestyles.

Trained in outreach counselling, sexual and reproductive health and family planning, Y-Peers provide information and advice to their peers and effectively link them with the UNFPA/ SDC-funded Youth Development Centres and Adolescent and Youth Friendly Health Clinics in their communities.

Sosorbaram, 22, became a Y-Peer member when she attended a Y-Peer training that was delivered at her school. Sosorbaram aspires to be a doctor one day, and was especially interested to learn more about sexual and reproductive health.

She feels that people should be as comfortable to talk about their sexual and reproductive health just as they would discuss any other health problem, and seeks to dispel the stigma attached to sexual and reproductive health issues. Sosorbaram says, “It is my wish that just as people seek help for an earache; they will feel comfortable to speak to a doctor or a friend about their sexual and reproductive health.”

Along with Sexual and Reproductive Health issues, Sosorbaram most commonly assists people with counseling around relationship issues.

“Being able to help people to solve their problem is a good feeling”, Sosorbaram says. Gaining respect in her community from> being able to assist others and meeting lots of new people has been an added benefit to being part of Y-Peer.

Sosorbaram also hopes to build the name of Y-Peer into public awareness, so young people know who they can talk to about the problems they are facing. She feels that more people know about Y-Peer now than ever before, and many more people have spoken with her seeking advice.

Overcoming her fear of speaking in public was a real challenge for Sosorbaram but she states, “being involved in Y-Peer has strengthened my self-confidence I can now speak confidently in front of rooms of people when delivering Y-Peer training in schools.” Today, as the Y-Peer Coordinator, Sosorbaram is supporting 25 fellow Y-Peer members to share the messages of health and wellbeing to young people across Gobi Altai.

“At Y-Peer, we all support each other by checking in with how we are doing, discussing reproductive health topics as a team and deciding together the best things to do and what to say ”.

Every day, Sosorbaram and the Y-Peer team contribute to achieving the Global Sustainable Development Goals by providing quality education and support to their peer network on good health and wellbeing practices. Sexual and reproductive health is the key to gender equality through promoting women’s right to make informed choices freely and responsibly on matters related to sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, and are free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

* Y-Peer Training is conducted by UNFPA’s implementing partner, Mongolian Family Welfare Association NGO using an internationally recognized training program. UNFPA’s Y-Peer global network has over 500,000 members, and operates in 52 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit: http://www.y-peer.org/

by: Lizzi Logan