This initiative uses an 11-episode television serial - "an upbeat, romantic comedy" - that is meant to be attractive to young adult viewers while stimulating awareness about the importance of communication in families and positive life planning. The serial broadcast for 11 weeks, spanning across a 3-month period, and aired alongside two music videos which are based on the drama's theme songs. Directed by AWS (described as "an up-and-coming singer/songwriter"), the videos "Neend Mien" and "Acha Laga" promoted the drama and aimed to attract youth. To draw broad audiences, a premiere event was held that featured Kaisey Kahoon's scriptwriter (a well-known actor and playwright), along with the Producer/Director and cast members. AWS, who produced the theme songs for the drama, performed live at the launch. The event hosted more than 500 people, including Greenstar doctors, media personalities, members of the public and private health sectors, and representatives of CCP and the Packard Foundation.
Each 1-hour-long "lighthearted" episode shows young adults in a modern urban setting tackling challenges in work and in their personal lives as they learn to find their voices and place in society. Specifically, Kaisey Kahoon tells the story of a middle-class family confronting contemporary social issues and learning to resolve them by communicating more openly with one another. The family's two siblings, Zen and Natasha, struggle to find their identities and self-confidence as they, their parents, and grandparents learn to talk openly across generations about difficult issues. Family planning and the need for spacing between children are key themes of the drama.
Use of an entertaining medium is also part of an effort to alert newlyweds to the availability of counseling services at Greenstar clinics: TV and radio spots promoting the services were aired alongside the drama. With support from CCP, Greenstar trained 500 doctors (in Karachi and Lahore) in counseling skills so that they can aptly offer young men and women professional advice at the outset of their married lives on reproductive and maternal health, family planning, infertility, and the importance of spousal communication. The strategy here involves using interpersonal communication to find an entry point for addressing the reproductive needs of youth - one that is not only acceptable in a Muslim culture but that aims to foster a life-long pattern of informed decision-making at the outset of a major life event (marriage). CCP and Greenstar developed a client brochure and a client/provider cue card for reference during the counseling sessions.
The Youth First project also includes 3 youth telephone hotlines to foster information sharing about reproductive health, family planning, and adolescent health issues (available in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad). CCP worked with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP) and Rozan (Ray of Light). Together, CCP and Rozan developed a counselor training curriculum, caller tracking system, and hotline operations. With support from CCP, both NGOs developed and executed multi-media promotional strategies in their regions to raise awareness about the importance of youth issues and promote the hotlines. Promotional activities included direct outreach to youth via large youth festivals, funfairs, orientations and booths at schools and universities, as well as TV and radio programmes.
Youth, Family Planning, Reproductive Health.
Formative research, conducted by CCP and Lowe & Rauf Pvt. Ltd., included focus group discussions and in-depth interviews examining attitudes and behaviours toward reproductive health, family planning, and transition to marriage; CCP also conducted a literature review.
The music video "Neend" (Sleep) created as part of this project was named one the top 5 videos of Pakistan for 2005.
CCP, FPAP, Rozan, and Greenstar, with funding from the Packard Foundation.
New Entertainment-Education Drama to Premiere in Pakistan, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (CCP) Press Release, September 29 2005; email from Kim Martin to The Communication Initiative on October 1 2005; emails from Shana Yansen to The Communication Initiative on June 15 and June 22 2006, and on November 27 2006; Youth First page on the CCP website (no longer active); and "Pakistan Youth First Project: Meeting the Challenge - Investing in Newlywed Counseling for Young People in Pakistan" by Suruchi Sood, Shana Yansen, and Amir Omair.