The young women who visit Safietou’s center are often scared of being judged when they walk through the door. They come to the clinic in secret, not wanting anyone to know they might use contraception. “Here in Senegal, sexuality is taboo. But we reassure them. Our interactions are confidential. Sometimes girls don’t come for a consultation but just to talk about their concerns, worries and personal issues.”
The center is often busiest the day after Safietou visits a school. They keep flexible hours, going where students are—from outreach on beaches during summer holidays to training teachers to offer accurate information during the academic year.
When girls can’t access contraception, the consequences can be dire. “We see many clients who’ve had an unsafe abortion. Sometimes their partner gives them mixtures of products. It is very harmful, very risky, very dangerous. I had one client who was bleeding and very pale. She didn’t want to tell me what she had taken, but I earned her trust and was able to help her. She’s still in school today. She says she wants to be a midwife to support young women in need.”
Safietou is determined to provide young women with the information they need to achieve their goals in life. “The impact on the young women is important and it is what motivates me. Too often, girls are badly informed. They get bad information. That’s what pushed me to do this job: I felt a responsibility to change things.”
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