The Sambhav Story: Grooming Adolescents – Bangla Natak

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The Sambhav Story: Grooming Adolescents

“There is a thought in my mind which I have not shared with anyone so far, as to why all parents treat their children or the girl and boy differently. After all, be it a girl or boy, both are children of the same parents.”

These words came forth from an adolescent during an activity in one of the peer adolescent workshops conducted in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. The activity was, essentially, a secret-sharing exercise where the participants were asked to write down on small chits of paper anything that had been bothering them and which they had not been able to share with anyone. To maintain confidentiality, they were asked not to write their names. The exercise helped bring to surface several hidden thoughts, aspirations and concerns of the participating adolescents.

Adolescents in India, that is boys and girls aged 10–19 years, constitute about 21% of India’s population which, in numbers, translates to 253 million. Adolescence is ideally a healthy period, nonetheless, more than 33 percent of the disease burden and almost 60 percent of premature deaths among adults can be associated with behaviour or conditions that began or occurred during adolescence, for example, tobacco and alcohol use, poor eating habits, sexual abuse, and risky sex (WHO 2002).

India has embarked on a journey to address adolescent health needs and concerns through its recently launched Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram – which expands the scope of adolescent health programming in India – from being limited to sexual and reproductive health, it now includes in its ambit nutrition, injuries and violence (including gender based violence), non-communicable diseases, mental health and substance misuse.

In this context, the Government of Jharkhand is implementing ‘Sambhav’, an adolescent programme under the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), a national scheme to improve adolescents’ health, prevent child marriages, and encourage adolescents to pursue higher education.

The programme has a peer education-based approach to engage and empower adolescents. Adhering to RKSK guidelines, village level Adolescent Health Days (AHDs) are being observed in select districts in every quarter. The aim is to improve linkages between adolescents and the service providers as well providing a safe space or forum to address the concerns of adolescents.

UNICEF’s Jharkhand office undertook a capacity building drive for the programme staff of the local NGOs implementing the scheme, frontline workers (FLWs) and adolescent peer educators, to strengthen communication at the ground level across East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Lohardaga, Gumla and Simdega districts. The aim was to develop scalable and replicable models for training and responsive mechanisms of service delivery.

We partnered with UNICEF to design and implement capacity building workshops and observe AHDs between October and December, 2017.

The outcome was quite satisfactory:

40 NGO personnel underwent capacity building in aspects like social mobilization. They were trained on using theatre-based tools and techniques for two-way communication and community engagement. These were done during four-day residential workshops held in two batches. A quick reference guide titled ‘Handout for Effective Social Mobilization’ was designed for the NGO personnel.

102 adolescents from 6 intervention blocks of East Singhbhum underwent capacity building on use of theatre for social mobilization. Three street play scripts got developed in a participatory manner during the three non-residential workshops of 2 days each.

Capacities of 109 FLWs from East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Gumla, Lohardaga and Simdega districts were strengthened in aspects like rollout of Adolescent Health Day and best practice demonstration. A resource booklet titled, ‘A Guideline for Effective AHD Celebration’ was developed to work as a ready reference kit for AHD.

Handholding support was provided to FLWs for demonstration of 6 Adolescent Health Day celebrations in the 5 pilot districts. This was attended by 594 adolescent girls and boys, and 245 parents and community members, in the presence of 106 key stakeholders.

During the project cycle, the participants tested the newly acquired skills and participatory tools during audience engagement sessions that drew very positive responses from the community. After the workshop, the NGO personnel of Lohardaga Gram Swarajya Sansthan conducted a meeting (IPC session) with the parents and prevented the marriage of a 16-year-old girl. The local newspaper covered the development and this had a very positive effect on the community.


“Do all girls go through the menstrual cycle at the same time each month? Does it pain a lot during this period? This is the first time that we have got a platform to discuss our issues, share our views and clarify any doubts. We also got a lot of new information. Before this, issues like menstrual hygiene were never discussed openly. We didn’t know much about it either.” — An 18-year-old boy, during the Adolescent Health Day celebration on 8 December at Matak Mahtu in Mahul Sahi Tola of Chaibasa in West Singhbhum district.

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