Mothers support groups empower women

Christine, 37, says she has peace of mind to care for her seven children. She chose and received a permanent family planning during a community health outreach.

Christine Tuitoek, 37, is a farmer and a single mother of seven who lives in Kimalel village, Baringo County.

Christine got her first child when she was 13. She did not have any information on how to take proper care of the baby.

She dropped out of school to care for her child. The young mother relied on her parents to help care for her baby. It did not take long before she got married to a much older man.

After Christine delivered her lastborn son, she joined a local mother-to-mother support group that local health workers formed with support from USAID’s Afya Uzazi Program.

Mother-to-mother support are a platform for mothers to share experiences, exchange ideas and receive information on proper nutrition for mother and child.

A doctor explains the tubal ligation procedure: The process works by blocking the fallopian tubes so that eggs released from the ovaries cannot move down the tubes, and so they do not meet sperm. Afya Uzazi supported in-reaches, where roving medical teams helped to provide long-acting family planning methods at health facilities that do not routinely offer the service. The project also trained community health volunteers to provide accurate information on family planning and to refer women and couples to the facilities for services.

 

During one of the group meetings that Christine learnt about long-term and permanent family planning methods. 

She went home and thought deeply about what she heard learnt from a health care worker and the other mothers.

She did not want to have children. Her husband had left her, and she could not afford to provide for another child on her own.

Christine approached a community health volunteer (CHV) to tell her more about permanent methods of family.

The CHV counselled Christine and invited her to an outreach at the Kimalel health centre, a few kilometres from her home.

During the outreach, Christine sat down for a counselling session with a health worker. After listening to the pros and cons of all options, she chose tubal ligation. The operation was done on the same day.

Christine says she was convinced this was the right choice because she did not want to get more children.

“It has been very difficult for me to provide for my family. My children need food, soap, books and sometimes I don’t even have the money. They ask me for new clothes, but I cannot buy because I am saving for school fees.”

Her eldest son is 25 years old and just completed high school. The youngest is three years.

For a long time, Christine had inconsistently used short-term methods like the three-month injectable and pills. She would go without a method for and get pregnant when she did not intend to.

 “Am happy because I will be able to work even harder and take good care of my family,” says Christine. “Even if I get married again, I don’t want to get other children. Am contented.”

A total of 244,151 clients received family planning services through Afya Uzazi support. Half of them were new acceptors.