It’s one minute to airtime for Love & Life, a weekly radio show in Benin, a country in West Africa. African pop music streams through the crowded radio station. Sound technicians ready their equipment for broadcast. Producers rifle through pages of script.
Amidst the chaos, 18-year-old host Patricia strolls calmly into the sound booth.
The intro jingle begins, and Patricia kicks off the show. “Hey out there, glad you could join us for this week’s show,” she says. “Today we’re talking about condoms – why you may hate them, but why you should LOVE them!”
The Love & Life radio show addresses questions and concerns that youth – just like Patricia – have about health, especially sexual health, HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy.
Patricia joined the show two years ago when she began looking for information about sex that she could relate to. “Before, my family did not talk at all about sexuality,” she says.
Teenage girls like Patricia are at a crucial juncture in their lives: One-in-four young women between 20 and 24 years old in Benin gave birth before they turned 18. Love & Life gives these youth the information they desperately need to adopt safer, responsible sexual behaviors.
Just last year, through programs like these, we saved the lives of 15,441 mothers and prevented 5,644,400 unintended pregnancies around the world.
“Thanks to Love & Life, I have been able to break down some of the barriers at home too,” says Patricia. “Now, we openly discuss anything and everything.”
The show has gained increasing popularity, developing a cult-following among youth in different parts of the country. They call the Love & Life direct line to discuss health issues with specialists, such as medical providers and teachers.
Says Patricia: “Today I’m an ambassador for love and life not only in my community, but also at home.”