The MAHEFA Project’s youth program aims to empower youth to make responsible reproductive health decisions and sensible family planning choices through direct mentoring by youth peer educators (YPEs). These interventions are much needed in MAHEFA’s program regions, where youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years old make up one-fifth of the population.

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Twenty-seven year old Fulgence Rangamila is a YPE in Ambalatany, a small village in the northwestern region of Melaky, situated several hours away from the nearest major town. Health services in Ambalatany are extremely limited, and during the rainy season the village is inaccessible. This is why Fulgence’s role of creating an open dialogue around sex, sexuality, reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, and STIs is so crucial for the youth in his community.

At 27, Fulgence understands firsthand how hard it can be for youth to access clear and accurate information about sex, sexuality, reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, and STIs. Providing youth in his community with the appropriate knowledge and resources to make healthy decisions about sex is a priority for him.

Well known among his peers for his passion for soccer, Fulgence is seen as someone who leads by example on and off the field. “I am here to provide health messages and counseling to the youth in my community. I know each one of them personally and try to be someone that they can depend on no matter what.”

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“When I was younger,” Fulgence explains, “people would talk about sex without even mentioning the risks involved. Luckily, I found the right people that helped me form a better understanding of the risks of HIV and AIDS, STIs, etc. I try to share the same knowledge with these boys on and off the soccer field.”

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Fulgence regularly walks four hours to Besalampy. There he takes a series of trainings to maintain his status as YPE in his village.

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Fulgence takes great pride in his role as YPE through the MAHEFA program and continues to serve as an impressive example of youth advocating for change in their communities.

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The USAID-funded Madagascar Community-Based Integrated Health Project, known locally as MAHEFA, was a five-year health program that provided basic, quality health care to isolated populations in six north and northwestern regions of Madagascar. The program’s overarching goal was to increase the use of proven, community-based interventions and essential products among underserved populations of Madagascar.

All photographs by: DDC Madagascar/JSI

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