The lives of the peer educators of the PEPPY Project

One of our other tasks for PRRM was to make case studies of the people involved in their reproductive health education project for out-of-school youth called the PEPPY Project. I was assigned to interview Kuya Edwin Baybayon and here are some highlights of my interview with him.

Kuya Edwin is currently a peer educator for the PEPPY Project. He is thirty-nine years old and has been a peer educator for five years. It is his first time to be a peer educator for PEPPY since it was launched in May 2013. His first involvement with PRRM was with the HIV/AIDS Prevention Project (HAPP) in 2009. He is very amiable and passionate about his work. His five years as peer educator have helped him reach out to people and be more sympathetic to their needs. Because reproductive health is a difficult subject to discuss especially since some people are uncomfortable discussing it, he makes the topics more understandable by interacting with his fellow peer educators to provide a light mood in the discussion group.

He’s been going around Brgy. Bagong Silang for about eight months already and he says that it has helped him be more recognized in the community. Sometimes, people think he works for the barangay or the local government because of his visibility around the community.

Being a peer educator also has it’s psychological side-effects since they get to hear stories that are heart-breaking especially during Kwentuhang Teen Moms sessions. He says the burdens that the teen moms share during these sessions make his heart go out to them because he realizes that they just really need someone to talk to.

Despite the set-backs and struggles that he encounters as a peer educator, Kuya Edwin says there are also rewards in being a volunteer for the PEPPY project. He says that if someone goes up to him and asks him, “Kuya paano gumamit ng condom?” or when a person approaches him because a friend referred him or her to him or when a pregnant teen asks about abortion or asks to be accompanied to the health center, he says he feels that he has been an effective peer educator. These instances tell him that what he has been doing as a peer educator really has an impact on the participants. In these instances, he is more than willing to help them because it’s his way of continuing to teach them more things about reproductive health.

Being a peer educator also gives Kuya Edwin some memorable experiences. He says that his most memorable experience happened in one session of Kwentuhang Teen Moms. One of the participants there whom he also knew personally, shared about her life as a teen mom. She had a baby when she was 14 years old but now that her child is more grown up, her child says curse words at her and mistreats her. This revelation of hers shocked Kuya Edwin because he never expected that she was going through abuse by her own child since she always looked happy. This mother despite giving off a happy demeanor, is also a drug addict. This made him realize the gravity of the situations that teen moms face and he hopes that he can teach them and their children to not make the same mistakes.

Seeing Kuya Edwin’s work first hand made me appreciate the great help that the PEPPY project is doing to the community. I realized how important it is to really talk about reproductive health and not shy away from the questions we have about it because knowing the answers instead of discovering them on our own really does make a difference.

– Olivia Solomon, 2012-16839

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