Roatán Peer Health Exchange (RPHE) was created by several local and international medical students, as well as community activists to provide family planning education and methods to Roatán, Honduras a region previously with no form of reproductive health education taught in its schools, has the second highest incidence of HIV in the country, and with nearly one half of women pregnant before age 20. RPHE’s mission is to empower young people with resources to make healthy decisions. Our organization believes that all young people deserve equal access to the knowledge, skills, and resources that support their physical and mental well-being.
I am a 28-year-old black woman born and raised in Roatan, an Island with income extremes, but devastated by AIDS. I grew up in a family that dealt with common island issues: poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, and self-destruction, I was lifted out of this cyclic behaviour by a scholarship to a private school. Education changed my world, I learned about AIDS in high school from my teacher who was passionate about making a difference. I found myself volunteering in her AIDS program after school which led to attending the International AIDS conference in Washington DC in 2012, the first time I had ever left my country. That changed my world as I recognized two things, One; I needed more education to be more effective Two; One person can make a huge difference.
Months after moving back home I realized that the most effective way for me to make an Impact was in the way in which I was impacted and that was through education. I rapidly realize that the best way to do this was to work with the youth. I started meeting with a group of teens on Saturdays having a safe space at the clinic we would chat about everything and do crafts, after a couple of months into this I was forwarded an email from a Daniela Brissett (a med student in Roatan doing research at the time) who wanted to partner with local organizations hoping to do something about the high teenage pregnancy and STD rate. After meeting and discussing the issue we brainstormed on the best way to do so and came up with RPHE’s mission.