This piece is a part of A360’s replication series on the UK Aid-funded Vale-a-Pena project. With and for young people, Vale-a-Pena is proving the power in applying A360’s youth-powered approach to determine what it takes to enact effective, resonant and ultimately lasting adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) behavior change in Mozambique – and beyond.
By Fuva Muiambo, Communications Officer, PSI/Mozambique
Who doesn’t love a good story? We learned during Vale a Pena (VAP)’s inception phase that rural adolescents certainly do – and especially so when it comes to broaching the tough sexual and reproductive health (SRH) conversations!
Through our experience in VAP, we’ve found that storytelling through videos delivers a creative and powerful way to engage adolescents in meaningful conversations around the range of SRH topics, from contraception to peer pressure and menstrual health and hygiene. Whether viewed during counseling sessions or played during demand generation events, we’re finding that videos serve an effective vehicle to establish trust with young people as a first step to tackling more difficult conversations.
The following captures our approach – and the replicable steps and learnings that similar youth programs can also apply.
What we’re doing
We produced a range of videos for use by VAP promoters who work day-to-day in the communities and lead SRH dialogues with adolescents in Nampula and Gaza. The videos equipped them with a tool that speaks to young people’s everyday challenges (such as pressure for early marriage) as an entry point to presenting contraceptive methods in a more accessible and visual way.
The videos arm VAP promoters – who work to mobilize young people to VAP activities – with a tool to initiate conversations with parents sensitizing them about the importance of SRH and with adolescents to talk about their future and the role contraception can play in supporting them to achieve their goals. The promoter offers the young person a referral to visit a PSI-trained youth-friendly nurse.
What do the videos include?
The videos include tutorials on the various contraceptive method and their respective benefits and potential side effects. Other videos capture testimonials from other young people “like me,” in addition to community members voicing their support for and benefits of SRH services.
Why video—and why now?
We know that adolescents like watching videos; but the ones previously made by promoters were not high quality, nor tailored for young consumers. Messaging framed around “family planning,” which didn’t resonate with many young people who weren’t focused on starting a family, right now. We needed a solution that would speak directly to young people, and inspire them to understand the relevance of contraception in their lives. Our videos elevated the stories of young people who have chosen contraception as a tool to support them in achieving their life plans.
The videos are a start; from there, promoters engage adolescents in SRH counseling, and offer young people a referral to meet with a youth-friendly health provider.
What steps did we take to produce the videos – and how did we identify the topics the videos would address?
Involving field personnel and VAP partners like N’weti and participatory video trainer Catcher Media Social, we developed a video series plan to include video tutorials on contraceptive methods, testimonials addressing challenges young people face in their day-to-day lives and footage documenting the work promoters do in the community. We partnered with promoters to support production, using their insights on what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to engaging young consumers, and their influencers.
And we iterated, again and again – to ensure the final product reflected what young people told us they wanted and needed.
Key learnings from earlier videos produced under VAP showed that for a video to be successful, adolescents need to relate and empathize with the story and teller. The story should be from an adolescent and related to her community, plus the promoters playing the videos should be young and also from the community. We also learned that telling the story in vernacular languages and using local expressions were crucial.
What didn’t work?
We offered a two-week training to get promoters up to speed on how to use the video; but two weeks was not enough for promoters to practice using the videos. And while we worked with translators to translate the English facilitators’ guidance to Portuguese, we faced blocks with many participants speaking native Mozambican languages, rather than Portuguese. Additionally, while we produced the initial videos, any future videos that promoters may need down the line, such as video testimonials, would require support from the office for them to be able to use the equipment.
Where we are going next
The videos created by the team in this training session are currently being used in the promoter’s dialogues with the adolescents. Feedback from the sessions and follow up conversations with adolescents are helping us to plan upcoming videos. Our scripting and filming skills are also being used to document and share best practices from the field and capture the voice of field teams and consumers.
We’d love it if you watch one of our videos and tell us what you think… and of course, stay tuned for more!