What’s your family planning story?
A few months ago, I listened to one female senior executive tell a captivating story of how she struggled with abject poverty while raising her children. Feeding was a huge problem. It was so bad that to cook a pot of watery soup, she would include one piece of meat so that the big watery pot of soup would have a slight aroma of meat and give her large family the feeling that they would eat meat. Sometimes, she had to beg for a loaf of bread to feed her children. It was a harrowing experience especially because she also lived in mortal fear of getting pregnant again and deepening the choking cycle of poverty.
Suddenly, she heard about family planning and adopted it. Family planning helped her to manage her fertility and this freedom empowered her to go back to school and get educated. Today, she has a fantastic job in the United Nations. She said that sometimes her children remind her of their struggle days during the poverty era. Now they can laugh at the bygone days of poverty because their mother adopted family planning and has become successful. The woman’s story held everyone spellbound because so many people love to hear the ‘Before and After’ success stories of other people.
The story is reminiscent of what millions of Nigerian women endure daily because they have children they cannot cater for. It’s an unfortunate narrative that is playing out in different parts of Nigeria. Narratives of women living in fear of unwanted pregnancies, narratives of families with overstretched finances due to having so many children they are unable to take care of, narratives of large families suffering from the burdens of school fees and feeding fees, narratives of children labelled ‘mistakes’ because their parents never desired the children and were also not proactive in avoiding the unintended pregnancies. These narratives are the ‘Before’ portion of my family planning story in Nigeria.
In telling my family planning story, I am humbled with DKT Nigeria’s successes especially from the field where our over sixty-five sales and distribution employees interact daily with clients and give us their touching experiences with family planning. A particular incident, which happened during our Sayana Press introduction in the private sector programme, comes to mind.
One day, when our DKT Bees (CHEWs) visited a popular, noisy and busy market in Abeokuta, Ogun state sometime last year, they met an unexpected opposition from the local herb sellers who were shouting in their native language and boasting about the efficacy of local herbs and charms over our so called ‘ogun oyinbo’ (‘Whiteman’s medicine’). When the detractors realized that their noises were not working, they began to approach the women in the crowd who were listening to the DKT Bees. The local herb sellers declared a war on family planning. There were also some other women who were there to discourage others from taking Sayana Press or any form of family planning at all. Despite the chaos and intended discouragement from the herb sellers that day, sixty women were counselled on family planning methods, out of which forty-two took Sayana Press right in their stalls and several other women took the pills and condoms. This is part of the “After” portion of my family planning story.
My family planning story is incomplete without revealing our other achievements within four short years in which DKT Nigeria has distributed over 100 million condoms, 60,000 implants, 950,000 Sayana Press units, 5.5 million Misoprostol tablets and 1.2 million emergency contraceptive pills. In 2015, DKT Nigeria’s demographic impacts were averting 124,547 unintended pregnancies, 409,321 abortions, 2,476 maternal deaths and 3,430 child deaths.
My family planning story is not complete without the success of our www.honeyandbanana.com campaigns on social and digital media platforms or the ‘Six Months Free Radio Airtime Award’ given to DKT Nigeria for bringing contraceptive information and awareness to the doorsteps and homes of Nigerian women or even the several appreciation letters sent to office from our radio listeners or the untold appreciation by thousands of women who use DKT’s products and live fulfilling lives free from the shackles, fears, struggles and burdens of unwanted pregnancies.
My family planning story is the collective and teamwork efforts of the employees at DKT Nigeria and we will not rest on oars until every woman in Nigeria has access to effective, safe, affordable and quality contraceptives. This is our resolve especially as the world celebrates the World Contraception Day. We will continue to carry out our family planning /social marketing objectives effectively and enjoin you to come along with us in weaving a beautiful family planning story here in Nigeria.
Happy World Contraception Day.
Sakellaridis is the Country Director of DKT Nigeria.
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