The VEG Youth Centre offers counseling and information on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues to youth under 26 years old. It is located in the center of Ho and offers a range of in-center and outreach programs to promote behavior change and responsible decision-making amongst youth regarding their sexual and reproductive health.
The VEG Youth Centre provides:
1. Counseling for youth on sexual and reproductive health related issues
2. Referrals to local (health) services
3. A Resource Center
4. In-Center Programs
5. Outreach services
Counseling and advice for youth
The central point of the VEG Youth Centre is the provision of counseling and advice to youth. The center is a walk-in service with appointments for follow ups, and employs two counselors: one male, one female. The counselors provide one-on-one, couples or group counseling to youth. The counselors also run discussion groups on specific topics related to adolescent sexuality and fertility, inviting different school, work and church groups, and out-of-school youth to take part.
Referrals to local health and social services
In order to encourage safe sexual and reproductive behavior, part of VEG’s aim is to support the use of local health services by youth. The idea is to create a network of youth-friendly services within Ho Municipality to help improve youth’s reproductive and sexual health. Referrals to other services will be made when a counselor believes a client needs to seek medical help, for example in cases of possible STIs, pregnancy, contraceptive use or reporting of domestic violence.
The Resource Centre
Some young people may prefer to explore information on SRH issues at their own pace, either independently or with friends. The Resource Centre will provide a workspace and multi-media resources on all issues related to young people’s sexuality and fertility. In addition, it will also provide information for service providers working with youth in Ho Municipality. By providing resources, VEG hopes to support both the increase in knowledge and safer sexual and reproductive behavior, as well as the services other organizations provide for youth.
In order to encourage service use and participation, the VEG Youth Centre, with support from international volunteers (VEG volunteers as well as those placed with other organizations around Ho), set up a Youth Club program. Young people at schools, apprentices, vocational training colleges, work and youth groups are invited to take part in a 10 week program covering topics from changes during puberty, the biology of sex and reproduction; choices about sex, including the consequences of those choices: contraceptive use, abstinence STIs, pregnancy and HIV/AIDS; self-esteem, building healthy relationships, sexual violence and how to prevent it, and peer education. These programs provide a space in which young people can discuss issues confidentially and without judgment, and trust the answers they are given.
Many young people live in rural areas with poor transport and communication links. This means that they either cannot reach services in Ho Township, or do not hear about services when they are available (and accessible). In order to combat this, the counselors at the VEG Youth Centre are carrying out programs in rural communities, providing awareness on SRH issues, and then offering counseling services to young people in those communities.