Arrived in Canela

After numerous planes trains and taxis and 24hours later I arrived in the alpine city of Canela. I’ve already met Daisy in Porto Alegre and we got a lift with the mayors driver to take us straight up into the mountains, another 2hours drive North. At night driving through the city we can see huge fibre glass stork birds carrying models of babies in nappies. There are oversized mobile teddy bears and booties hanging from lampposts. And in the central roundabout is a mini ferris wheel with (model) babies sitting in the seats enjoying the ride. It’s dark and the famous ‘baby week’ is in it’s 15th year and it all feels a bit surreal.
After 5 hours sleep a student calls and wakes me up to take me on my first visit to a primary school for their sex education talk to the year 8’s. I tell him to come back in a bit and Daisy and I met to have breakfast and have a cup of Yorkshire tea.
Our student arrives again with two other medical students to take us to a local primary school. The ages are 8-14years (it’s like they’ve mixed it with middle school included).
The aim of this workshop incorporates the universities collaboration with the baby week and their grassroots approach this time promoting sexual mental and physical health.
The sexual age of consent in Brazil is 14 years old. This is very interesting for me as a speakeasy facilitator in the UK.
Medical students deliver this because there’s not the embarrassment you get with a teacher you know. It’s not public health with an agenda it’s informal coming from adults a bit older than them giving medical advice. They’re two lads and one girl delivering this, they know the talk and speak matter of factly . They discuss STI’s, sex, pregnancies and unwanted pregancy.
Abortion is illegal in Brazil.
They say that on average the same questions always come up. Mainly a lot are confused, they hear about STI’s, drugs, sex, pregnancy, but it’s only until after they attend these workshops that they can connect everything together and feel more confident about the subject.
This is a very successful workshop and research over the years has reported a reduced number of teenage pregnancies.
It was interesting seeing how the pupils huddled within groups of social status. There was one group of girls in one corner and another group of girls in another. All the boys stayed together. They scribbled on bits of note paper to ask questions they couldn’t say out loud and requested that they leave the room to ask another question they couldn’t say in the classroom. One girl explained the division in girls to me ‘here we are the virgins and over there they’re not the virgins’. One girl is married she is 14 years old. Another girl married but not anymore as of last week.
The lads stayed together as a group and after the initial embarrassed jokes and giggling it turned into a very positive and successful workshop.
This is just one of the workshops the university deliver in baby week. On how not to have babies!

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