VASECTOMY WITHOUT BORDERS
WVD and Profamilia have created multiple activities to perform in the pubic space. Among them, activities include:
- Street Interviews
WVD’s crew will be interviewing men and women in each city. Questions will include beliefs, myths and opinions around vasectomy and men engagement in sexual and reproductive health. These interviews will be lead by Profamilia’s Local Young Networks.
- Virtual Vasectomy Clinics
Virtual Vasectomy Clinic is an innovative idea aimed at showing men and women how a vasectomy looks like with virtual reality.
WVD Videos Screening:
WVD will screen educational videos and testimonials around vasectomies and men engagement in sexual and reproductive health.
From WVD and Profamilia stands, both organizations will hand flyers and swag to inform about vasectomy and World Vasectomy Day.
Artistic and Cultural Presentations:
Each city will portray their cultural and artistic traditions connecting them with WVD.
WVD COLOMBIA 2019
Our van-sectomy arrived from Bogota on October 1 to the beautiful city of Popayán. Excited and curious about launching what will be a national road trip, our first stop was the Profamilia Clinic, epicenter of sexual and reproductive health and planning in the city.
There awaiting us with streamers and balloons was the Director of the clinic and her team. Our day began with a warm embrace – as both sides were eager to kick off this unprecedented national celebration. Right away we delivered World Vasectomy Day t-shirts.
Over the next few hours spent in the clinic, we talked with people about our movement and interviewed men who shared their thoughts and feelings before, during and after their vasectomy. Sebastián Sarmiento, father of one, and, Gustavo Carvajal, with four children, were open and courageous and we were honored to have their trust.
We met other men who were in the waiting room and talked about their motivations, fears and expectations regarding this decision. Don Arturo, explained that myths about vasectomy were still common in his social circle and that it had not been an easy decision for him. In another testimony, another man shared that the desire to be a responsible father had led him to decide to get a vasectomy. Between stories and conversations, the WVD production team recorded enough material to make a moving and compelling video created to help the Profamiia team promote vasectomy in Popayán.
In the afternoon, we met up once again with the Profamilia team – this time in the Plaza de la Banco de la República – right in the heart of Popayán. Joining us were public institutions such as ICBF, the Cooperative University and the Ministry of Health. Working together, we created an atmosphere of celebration and creativity around the theme – Male Sexual and Reproductive Health.
We set up a stand which included a giant screen with videos of the movement over the years and our very popular virtual vasectomy clinic. About 100 people lined up to experience a ‘virtual vasectomy’.
Giving a special artistic flavor to the afternoon, we welcomed the very talented Juan David, an 11-year-old musician who performed Colombian music. The day concluded with a performance of traditional Cauca music, presented by a group of young people from the city.
Before leaving we received a final message to pass on from the Popayán team to the people of Cali: “This is how we received World Vasectomy Day in Popayán, and you Cali, how are you going to receive it?”
The capital of the department of Valle del Cauca, Santiago de Cali, opened its doors to our van-sectomy on Thursday an Friday, October 3rd and 4th. On the morning of the 3rd, we set up at the main Transport Terminal and the Calima La 14 Shopping Center where we were accompanied by the Profamilia Youth Network. Approximately 200 people engaged in the program.
We spent the afternoon at the Profamilia Clinic, where hundred more greeted us, including the clinic team and a “collective” made up of 45 peace and culture managers from the city of Cali. In the clinic, we met with media outlets such as 90 Minutes, EL TIEMPO and El País, who covered the event and the virtual vasectomy clinic.
On October 4, the van participated in a mini-fair for sexual and reproductive health at the Casa del Mono. One hundred twenty young people were there. That afternoon we went to the Plaza Jairo Varela, an iconic place in the city, where we connected with over 200 people. The visit was supported by the public institution for Gender Equality -Subsecretaría de Equidad de Género- with the participation of the Masculinities School. Also, it included an exchange with “Cali Pa ‘Voz” – a program set up by the Mayor’s office to offer Salsa dancing classes to Caleños; during the salsa class, people danced to promote awareness on male engagement around sexual and reproductive health.
On October 7th, we arrived in Medellin where our vasectomy van was welcomed by a ‘honor guard’ awaiting us in the street in front of the Profamilia Clinic. There were balloons and streamers and a a crowd of people excited to officially inaugurate Medellin as a WVD hub. The first official action took place when the Regional Manager put on the WVD shirt. He then invited both his team and awaiting citizens to participate. Tin the next hours, we met men who had already gotten a vasectomy and men who were ready to get theirs done.
In the afternoon, with the objective of bringing awareness of our event to this innovative, hospitable and creative city, we traveled with the Profamilia Youth Network team. They guided us through emblematic places like Berrío Park, La Estación del Tram and Commune 13, with whom we talked about sexual and reproductive health while doing over 100 “virtual vasectomies’.
On October 8 we set up in the city center, at the Park of Lights. Over the day we interacted with approximately 150 people, including men, women and children. In the middle of the day, and with the support of the Ministry of Health and the EPM Foundation, we witnessed both typical dances and modern dance.
Known as one of the most beautiful cities in all of the Caribbean, we arrived in Cartagena the Profamilia clinic to the beautiful sounds of a Palenquera – where music, dance and thoughtful words were shared.
We glad to have the opportunity to speak with local journalists to talk about the ideas that launched World Vasectomy Day and why Colombia was chosen to be this year’s headquarters.
In each location we get to share with men whose stories reveal an openness of mind and spirit rarely heard in public spaces.
That same afternoon, taking advantage of the very visual and visible nature of our van, we drove thorugh the tiny down streets of the old city. People cannot help but to stare and we enjoy watching surprised faces as they read the words painted on our vehicle.
We arrived at the historic, Monument to the Indio Catalina, where set up our stand, shared information offered virtual vasectomies and saw, before our very eyes, how people can quickly change their attitudes as they open their minds.
Colombians refer to Barranquilla as the ‘golden gate’ and located on the Caribbean coast, soaked in sunshine and filled with passion, our Van-Sectomy was received as expected – with warmth, music and outrageous energy.
We arrived at 8:00 a.m. to the Profamilia Clinic where we were greeted with a Barranquilla Carnival. The first order of the day was to read the ‘reglamentos’ – these are the stated rules of Carnival, although these were rules adopted for WVD and focused on the importance of male engagement in family planning.
The Queen of Carnival herself announced the arrival of WVD and pronounced that the city must celebrate and so we danced amongst the carnival characters as we entered the clinic. There we met Marimunda, one of Barranquilla’s most beloved carnival characters who got to experience a virtual vasectomy.
Afterwards, we traveled to the Plaza de la Paz, to participate in Sexual and Reproductive Healt fiar for men, where 100’s of men showed up and experienced our Virtual Vasectomy Clinic and participated in education and entertaining games and contests. Once again, we were accompanied by Profamilia’s local youth organization who put a theatrical performance to debunk the myths and misconceptions surrounded vasectomies.
We have a long trip to Cuicuta and so, although sad to leave this city behind, we are excited to see what lies ahead.
On Wednesday morning we arrived at Profamilia’s clinic to a troupe of local dancers. Accompanied by traditional music, the performance honored the region’s indigenous culture.
The Motilones are considered extremely ‘macho’ so to see them depicted as partners in a social movement that encourages male participation in sexual and reproductive health, is inspiring.
Inside the clinic we interacted with dozens of men – some had already gotten their vasectomy.
Together they record a ‘call to action for the men of Cucuta.
In the afternoon we traveled to Ventura Plaza, where once again we set up stands and our van, offered virtual vasectomies and enjoyed a series of musical performances that ranged from classical music youth group, Arabic dancers and a clown show. It was a glorious reminder of the diversity of cultures that make up our nation.
It’s been almost three weeks since we left our base in Bogota and, although tired, we are extremely excited to be in Bucaramanga, a beautiful city as well as home to my mother’s family.
The creativity of the city’s Profamilia Clinic is on full display once again with a performance by the staff, where we are greeted by an iconic cultural figure, ‘la hormiga culona’. In the spirit of Halloween, they have prepared a script for a horror movie of a man whose fears of a vasectomy causes him terrible nightmares. The character wakes up and realizes that what he really fears is not the procedure itself, but his own ignorance.
Afterwards, we hear stories of men who are breaking stereotypes about the very definition of machismo. As with thousands of others throughout the country, these men do not let fear prevent them from doing right by their loved ones and to honor the families that are choosing a vasectomy, the clinic rolls out a ‘red carpet’.
Later that day, we visit Girón, a colonial town known for its exquisite white houses. Located on the outskirts of Bucaramanga, it is further proof of the extraordinarily rich and complex history of our nation.
The second day begins at a health fair that has been set up to support the Venezuelan migrant population. There we share information on vasectomy, counter myths about the procedure, and invite male migrants to be become responsible partners in their family’s contraceptive choices.
That afternoon, we meet with representatives from the city’s Health office in the neighborhood of Florida Blanca. While we share details about WVD, a group of teenagers become heavily engaged in the virtual vasectomy experience. At first, we are hesitant to discuss vasectomy with such young men, but they are eager to talk about the wide range of family planning options and we are willing to comply.
We know that a vasectomy is not their first choice at this stage of life, but we all agree that it is important to reach this age group, as it is likely that sometime in future, it might be their best option. We emphasize that although the contraception choices for men at present are limited to condoms and vasectomies, that communicating openly and honestly with one’s partner is crucial for loving and healthy sexual relationships.
Talking about the future after seeing so much of our country’s past, feels like the perfect way to end our road trip and so we set off on the final leg of the journey home, having now traveled 4,000 glorious kilometers. And true to the collaborative spirit of Profamilia, and our country, the director of the clinic, her team and the inhabitants of the city send us off with the following message: “This is how Bucaramanga celebrated WVD, and you Bogotá, how are you going to celebrate it?
Certainly, a long road trip through Colombia is not easy, but a sense of pride in our people has been re-affirmed.