Friday, 11 October 2013

Educating women to take control

 Children’s homes in Kenya, like our own, face a major problem in that so much child suffering could be avoided by the use of contraception.
Directors, social workers and health professionals all acknowledge the issue, but Mama is intent of driving it forward to find a solution through the network of children’s homes spearheaded in our region by our Uncle Billy  and Mama.
Each of the homes has admitted  children suffering from hunger ,neglect and , in some cases, abandonment,  because their mothers were unable to provide for them.
And in soem cases, once the “burden’’ of  care has been lifted, the mother has just gone on to have more kids.
When she cannot provide for them either, where does she turn?
Back to us, as though it is her right ,and our duty,  for us to take her baby into our care
In one case we have three siblings whose mother now has another baby. The mum of a set of twins who are with us has had yet another set of twins.
They may come to visit their children, but make no attempt to change their lives so they can all be together. 
Contraception is easily accessible, so why won’t these women use it?
Mama is tackling this question head on, seeking out the best advice and support to ensure that women are informed about the availability and ease of government-sponsored contraception.
We are calling parents of kids in our care are being called to a meeting where Mama, Uncle Billy and a family planning health professional, Christine, will talk to them about their options and their responsibilities.   
Of course they have rights, but they must understand that if they go on having babies they have a responsibility to feed, clothe and educate them.
There is no automatic right of access to a children’s home.
Lack of education and awareness is the major problem. In many cases, men will not allow women to use contraception believing by taking away the right to make a child it strips them of their manhood; in some cases men may have several wives, and children by them all,  even though there is little or no income to support them.
 In other cases, women existing in poverty will have sex, without protection, for a few shillings to put food on their table, and by the time they pregnant the man is long gone.
Only by a mind-shift in thinking, through education, will  women be empowered to make the right choices the way they manage their fertility.
Preventing unwanted pregnancies would not only alleviate so much child suffering, it would also reduce the number of maternal deaths.
But women can only make an informed choice if they know and understand their options. And if their husbands or partners are educated to understand that every woman is entitled to a have a say in how many children she will bear.
Mama and our charity intend to do all we can to ensure that they do