Cecilia’s StoryJuly 8, 2016
Peru—Cecilia, a young girl from a settlement in Pucallpa, Peru, was 14 years old when she turned her own life around.
Once a frustrated kid who struggled in school, feeling repressed by tough authorities and gender disparities, she joined a youth group as an early teen. With her peers, she would volunteer with the elderly, with orphans, in prisons, on HIV awareness programs.
“When I went back home, I used to share the information that I learned,” Cecilia said. “Here I was, the youngest daughter, talking about sexual health, women’s empowerment, prevention of violence against women, sexual and reproductive health rights! My parents were like ‘wow, what’s going on here? Cecilia is changing.’”
In 2010, she joined the Regional Council for the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy in Lima, where she met PCI Media Impact’s Regional Director, Javier Ampuero. “I remember seeing him larger than life. They were the leaders, the senior ones. I never imagined that I would end up working with Javier! We didn’t talk much at that time, but I saw that he had a lot of energy and drive.”
Then, one year later, Javier went to Pucallpa to start My Youth – My Community for the prevention of teenage pregnancy; and Cecilia was one of the youth he worked with.
The region where Cecilia lives, Ucayali, has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Peru.
“Anywhere you turn,” Cecilia said, “you will see an adolescent mom. I turned 23 this year. And from my whole cohort, I am the only one who does not have a baby.
Though sexual and reproductive health had been Cecilia’s passion for some time, her work with PCI Media Impact showed her how to reach people more effectively than ever.
“We had worked on communication issues with youth, but this was the first time I had heard about Entertainment-Education for social change. Something lit up inside of me. I loved it.”
The rest was history for Cecilia. She assisted on project after project for PCI Media Impact, volunteering as a mobilizer, even stepping into the role of radio host. And when the organization started a national project on water and sanitation, she was in charge of community mobilization.
“As Javier says, it needs to be born of the community. When you make them feel a part of it, they can feel like ‘this is mine, I can actually contribute to the change in my community, my region, my country’. That’s what I like most: it’s a collective learning process.”