Loise Nkonina, who has two children, was lucky enough to have been able to access family planning.
“We sat down as husband and wife and deliberated on the changes in life,” explains Loise (pictured, above left ), a teacher who is the main breadwinner for her husband and two children. We decided to have fewer children, whom we could comfortably bring up, feed, clothe and educate, rather than having many children who lack a good future.”
“In the past, the Maasai people loved many children,” says Loise’s husband, Samuel, a pastor (pictured, above right). “My own family consisted of ten children, but the world has changed. You have to think, what does my children’s future look like. How will I sustain their education? I’ve realised we have to take a different direction to how our parents brought us up.”
In Kenya, around one in four married women did not want a child soon, or wanted to stop childbearing altogether, but were not using any method of contraception (Guttmacher Institute, 2008/9). On average, rural and poor Kenyan women have 1.5 to two children more than they actually want (Guttmacher Institute, 2008/9).
CHASE Africa enables men and women in remote rural areas to access family planning, sexual and reproductive health education and services. With local partners and the Ministry of health, CHASE Africa runs clinics in Kenya and Uganda, and organises workshops for men and women to find out the benefits of spacing their children. The organisation believes that giving a woman access to family planning can transform her life – and her children’s futures.
CHASE Africa also supports men’s barazas, or public meetings, to allow men to talk amongst themselves about family planning. The meetings frequently help to dispel deep-rooted cultural beliefs – for example, that using contraception will make a woman barren – about side effects. Now, many participants are helping educate fellow men in the community, to enable them to support their partners on matters of maternal health.
“I heard about family planning just recently in a men’s baraza,” says Steven Kasiane, who has had 13 children – five of whom died.
“The facilitator kept on saying that a planned family is a happy family, that they are content with the few resources they have – and they do not go around begging for food.
“That statement was a wakeup call. How I wished I heard it much earlier! After the meeting, I advised my wife to see a nurse. She is now is on long-term family planning.”