By Alimatu Harding, youth volunteer at Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone

Joining the Stop Abortion Stigma project has helped me grow more confident than ever! Having been in the project for the last five months, I have learnt something about myself that I never knew.

I’m Alimatu Harding; working with the Stop Abortion Stigma project in Sierra Leone. It was an eye opener to me and other young people in this community. Having been with the project for five months, I have realized something about myself that I never knew before. I am more confident and assertive in addressing abortion and other related stigma in my community. My engagements in the project have further improved my social interaction and behaviour. Before this time, I found it difficult to engage people on issues relating to abortion.

The abortion project transformed my life. This was as a result of the training we received at the commencement of the project. I was part of the sensitization in schools and communities. This project has empowered me to talk about issues relating to abortion.

Abortion was viewed as an evil practice in my community, and if a woman ends a pregnancy intentionally, people thought that she will lose the chance to conceive in future.  Despite these numerous challenges based on religious values and traditional beliefs that were deeply rooted in my community, the intervention of the project brought positive transformation.

During the implementation of the project I engaged young women and girls on issues of abortion stigma and how we could work together to stop it. The project has helped me to interact with fellow young women and girls in the Njai Town community.

My involvement on a radio panel discussion, to talk to my peers and gather their contributions through text messages and phone calls was a remarkable experience.

Although abortion is legally restricted in Sierra Leone, the community stakeholders supported this project because they want to save our lives as their daughters and wives. Above all we ask that they recognize our sexual reproductive rights and stop stigmatizing us.