One Way to End the Circle of Poverty for Families

NURHI mobilizer in Ibadan engaging two women and their children about FP.

Low-income earners like market women, Okada riders, taxi drivers, Vulcanizers, cleaners and so on have more children than they can cater for.

A typical Okada rider used to transport passengers

Not too long ago an Okada man picked me up while on my way to the office. We got talking about the economy and how life can be difficult. I asked him about his family and he said that he had two wives and 7 children or more …I can’t really remember the number now. I didn’t want to alarm him but I quickly calculated how much he earns doing his Okada business.

It will not be enough to care for his large family. I then asked him about whether his children were enrolled in a school at least a government school. Well, he said he was trying his best to send them to school.

I shook my head and wondered if the circle of poverty will ever end in his family. If he can’t equip his children with the required skill and education to put them on a better pedestal in life then they all remain a struggling poor generation. This should not be so and can be stopped.

Do you know that those in the upper class and even middle class have fewer children? Imagine a man/woman is a multi-billion naira/dollar business owner and has only two children or four. These children will have more money than they can spend and if they are properly groomed and disciplined they will keep multiplying that money!

The Way Forward
I will say, educate as many people as you can about the need to raise a family commensurate to their income and ability. I have people who work for me like my housekeeper, and I also meet others like our mechanic, petty trade shop owner on my street. Hopefully, I can keep educating them about this “suicide” mission of having a large family with little or no money.

One way to end the circle of poverty among low income earners is to educate them about benefits of planning their families and having only the number of children they can cater for.

In my experience some of these people don’t know that they have a choice in the matter; they don’t know that there is something they can do about it.

Benefits of FP
• Mothers can rest between births and therefore are healthier
• Children born can receive proper care and nutrition while they develop. It is difficult taking care of a 3 months old baby when the mother becomes pregnant too soon.
• Income can be managed better with fewer mouths to feed
• Children can go to school and attain higher education.
• Fathers and mothers can have less stress in managing the resources of their family.
• Fewer fights in the family when the resources can go round.

Adebisi Adetunji ©

I Simply Love this: Young Men Network Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence #EndFGMNG

In my line of work as a media expert, development communication consultant and recently a social media influencer, I have met a number of men who are passionate about protecting women against all forms of discrimination and are advocates of women’s rights. But seeing and meeting a group of men advocating against sexual and Gender Based violence…It is just so thrilling for me. The Youngmen network is made up of active members from all walks of life across the country in Nigeria.

You see this says to me that women are not alone.
It also tells me that men and women can be on the same team.

And then this question also comes to mind: What are we teaching our sons? They are the ones who become men tomorrow and they will treat a woman the way we taught them as families or society. It is time to pay attention to teaching our sons right values; teach them how to respect and appreciate the women in their lives.

There is just no need for the power tussle.
And while I and everyone are pushing for the education and right treatment of girls let us not fail to educate our boys.

How did I arrive here? I have been part of a two day workshop organized by the Young men Network Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence with focus on ending Female Genital Mutilation. It is a down to earth dialogue filled workshop.

Lessons & Discussion Points on FGM
Ending FGMC is not about throwing away our culture as a people, it is about stopping harmful practices.
FGM does not prevent a woman from being promiscuous as is the belief. This is totally hinged on the kind of training and upbringing or how such a child is nurtured.
Culture is not static. It is dynamic and changes from time to time/place to place.
Current data shows that 22 million women in Nigeria have undergone Female genital mutilation.
FGM is so called and not female circumcision because it is not the same as male circumcision. According to medical findings male circumcision has some health benefits and it is only one type – The removal of the foreskin. However in women, cutting is up to four types which mean everyone decides how far they want to go with cutting and scraping a woman’s vagina(Not funny)
Type three of FGM called Infibulation requires that the labia(lips of the vagina) be cut and it is sewn leaving only a small hole for urinating and mensuration! (This leaves me shivering) She is cut open when she gets married to allow sexual intercourse and in some culture when the husband is traveling the vagina is sewn and closed up until the man returns! Come on….this is just too much torture and pain.
• FGM causes mental and physical harm.
• Although at the national level in Nigeria the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) had been signed into law since 2015, enforcing it and adoption by states remains an issue. Under the VAPP law, the act of FGM/C is punishable with a 5years imprisonment or a fine of N100, 000. If you ask me this fine should be like 5million.

The discussion is still ongoing and the way forward is to keep dialoguing with communities and people about FGMC. There is a need for more and continuous education and education about what this practice means to the women and girls concerned and to the family unit at large.

Facilitators/Speakers:

Sola Fagorusi – Onelife Initiative for Human Development

Ayodeji Osowobi – Stand to End Rape

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

Cries in the Cold Rain…

There was no warm blanket
No warm and loving hands to hold
No soothing voice
Her cries almost blocked her lungs
She was breathless, so cold

It was a wet day, no shelter
Her mother hurriedly dropped her in a dark corner
the rain continued to pour on
There she lay on a cold hard ground in the dirt

She cried even louder still stained with blood from the womb
Suddenly a shadow stood over her, a rough trembling hand picked her up

A warm cloth, not a blanket wrapped around her
This hand held her tightly to her chest and for the first time she felt the flesh of another human
A good Samaritan found her

Instead of giving birth to a baby that you will throw away use a condom.
Instead of snuffing out life from such innocence use a contraceptive pill.

Instead of dumping your baby give him/her up for adoption. Someone out there is willing to love and nurture that child. 

This poem is dedicated to all babies dumped in unthinkable places after being delivered by mothers who were not prepared and never wanted them.

Photo Credit: Original picture from Flicker

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

Safe Motherhood #3: My Personal Eventful Birth Story Prt 1 – Before You Get pregnant

Lending my voice to creating awareness about Safe motherhood I will be doing a few posts on my personal eventful birth story and also share how women can have a safe journey through pregnancy and delivery by preparing ahead even while a single.

The beginning of my own story:

Whenever a couple decides to tie the knot or make a lifetime commitment in Marriage their families say prayers of fruitfulness for them. In Nigeria, you will hear parents and even their pastor offer prayers of twins and triplets if possible.

Often people prepare you for other aspects of marriage but no one talks to the couple about what to do when they are expecting a baby. No one would tell them how to manage the period of pregnancy. As a lady, my eating habits left much to be desired. Often I will only eat a little meal and then of course loads of junk food was the order of the day. I had no idea what this would later mean to my health.

When I got married to my beloved husband or Boo as is the trend now I was excited and happy. We were contented even though we both earned a meager salary. Our mothers will often call and ask how we were doing. By that, they meant, “are you pregnant yet?” My husband and I will laugh and tell them to keep praying and hopefully, soon they would be grandmas.

One day I started to feel dizzy and my stomach won’t just settle and the first thing I wanted to do was confirm if I was pregnant. We were advised thankfully not to take any drugs until we confirm with our doctor. You know newlyweds don’t know sometimes that when the woman is not feeling too good she might be pregnant. And so such a woman will assume it is a case of malaria or other mild illness and begin to take drugs that will end up harming her baby and herself.

The funny thing was that I went for a scan and didn’t go for the usual urine or blood test. There I saw my active baby swimming all around. I became excited and then the doctor conducting the scan said madam there is a little problem.

My heart sank. My doctor said my baby was growing with multiple fibroids around my uterus. I was scared but she allayed my fears that since it didn’t prevent me from getting pregnant my baby can still grow normally and be delivered safely.

And so the journey through pregnancy began. My first three months was unexpectedly not turbulent as I went about my normal business going to work and doing every other thing. Still, I wasn’t eating well neither did I register for antenatal care where I could have gotten the necessary information about kinds of rich foods for an expectant mother. Instead, I was eating things like cereal, cornflakes and no serious meals.

When my pregnancy clocked four months the battle began. I became very ill and couldn’t retain any food. You would expect that we would immediately go to the hospital but we were managing the whole situation at home. Our excuse was that we did not have money to go to a private hospital and the general government hospital was on strike.

I was barely eating for three months so it was not until 7 months into the pregnancy that I was able to feel well but my baby had not received the needed nutrition for his development in the womb. Finally, I was able to register for antenatal but rather late.

Wait until you hear about my traumatic delivery experience that almost cost the life of my baby and me in the next post about safe motherhood.

Lessons from My Story

  • Develop a good healthy eating habit now.
  • If you experience distress or fall ill during pregnancy do not stay at home, get to the hospital to see a doctor. A simple drip to help return body fluid I had lost while vomiting continuously could have helped to stabilize me. Also, my doctor would have prescribed something to stop the vomit.
  • Get medical help at a Primary Health center if you cannot afford the secondary or Tertiary government hospital. They are cheaper and almost free.

 

Before You Get Pregnant:

Now is the time to eat right as a single lady or as a couple who plans to have a baby. Your body needs to have all the necessary nutrients because in pregnancy you and your baby will need a double dose to be healthy.

Junk foods and sweets look juicy and feel tasty but they provide nothing useful to your body. Avoid them as they can increase your blood sugar level.

What to eat now that you are not pregnant:

  • Lots of fruits and vegetable – Carrots, Apple, Pineapple, Pawpaw, Water Melon, Ugwu leaf, Green(Efo tete) (Vegetables)
  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt are rich in calcium
  • Foods rich in protein such as beans, fish, meat, egg. For Nigerians, if you do not really like beans, make akara and moimoi. These will still provide you with the much-needed protein.

Eat healthy to have a healthy baby. And seriously you need to be healthy yourself as a mother.

Know your health status before getting pregnant so that your health care provider can know how to properly manage you.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

 

SafeMotherhood#1 – Times when having a baby might be a Risk for a Woman

A few hours ago I heard the unpalatable news. I was actually outside my house trying to clear up some debris into the dustbin. My neighbor arrived and she had this gloomy face. I had to ask her what was wrong and out came the words that made me jump and exclaim. A friend of hers who was pregnant had just died leaving a baby behind. The cause of death was attributed to bleeding after birth which ended up as a complication. Doctors tried so hard to save her but she didn’t make it. It is so painful to hear what happened to this woman.

While talking with someone else about this case with all of us still beating our chest in empathy and concern out came another case. This time a woman had four boys already and she wanted a baby girl. She ended up becoming pregnant but gave birth to another baby boy. That would have convinced her to give up on the quest for a female child but she didn’t get the chance to make that decision. She would never live to raise her boys. It’s now a case of if only she had just put a full stop.

No woman should die giving birth to another life!!!

When you read about statistics of women who died during or after giving birth what comes to your mind? For example:

According to National Demographic and Health Survey(NDHS) 2013, the maternal mortality ratio is 576 per 100, 000 live births.

Does it seem like just a figure? Remember that number 1 represent one human- a woman- a soul. It’s happening all around us these needless deaths of women at the birth tables.

So here is what you need to know to protect any pregnant woman including yourself.

According to NDHS 64% of births in Nigeria are classified as high risk. The categories of women at risk of things going wrong trying to bring a child into this world fall under this time lines:
1) First timers: Couples preparing to have their first baby must get registered for antenatal early and be monitored through pregnancy. The first story I shared in this post was a first-time pregnancy. And there have been many of such cases due to lack of proper information about how the woman should have managed the pregnancy.

2) Too Early: Pregnancy that occurs in children from 10 – 13years. We call them baby mothers. Imagine your 11-year-old pregnant…? God forbid you will say. So we must protect our girls and stop giving out babies in marriage.

2) Too Young: This is the period before 18years.
Many cases of VesicoVaginal Fistula (VVF) happen with underage girls having babies. This is rather sad and is preventable. As close as of March 2017, Dr. Aliyu Mohammed El – ladan the National Director of Fistular Centre in Kastina said there are about 12, 000 new VVF cases every year in Nigeria. Something to be really concerned about

3) Too close/soon: Getting pregnant when still breastfeeding one baby is stressful and can become a health risk for both mother and baby.

4) Too Many: Frequent births of many children wear a woman out. She becomes prone to a number of health challenges sooner or later in life. That is if she survives it.

5) Too Late: A story is told of a woman who got pregnant when her oldest child was getting ready to graduate from the university. You can imagine how old she was. Sadly she didn’t survive that birth because of complications. This shouldn’t be!!!

Retirement babies are risky: You shouldn’t be nursing a baby when you should be enjoying grandma –hood.

Ways to prevent maternal deaths:

  • Know your medical history so you can share with your doctors right early in pregnancy.
  • Register for antenatal on time.
  • Do all the required tests and routine ones too.
  • Eat right and healthy.
  • When you are not feeling too good or have concerns speak to your doctors on time. Don’t just take every untested advice from others whose pregnancy experience may not be the same as yours.
  • After delivery of your baby don’t forget to keep your postnatal appointment at the hospital.
  • Take time to rest in between births by going for family planning.

My submission:

Plan your babies… Let’s protect our girls; let’s protect our mothers, sisters, friends and neighbors by sharing this information with them.

The life of one mother is precious. Go for family planning today.

Photo Credits: 123Freevectors, Center for Communications Program Nigeria

Reference: NURHI/DEVCOM

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

In the News : 37 year Old Woman Gives birth to 38 Children!!😱

A Ugandan Woman named Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye has the photo of herself, husband and some of her 38 Children splashed all over the pages of newspapers and social media.

As I stared at the photo of this “massive” family my jaws dropped open for a long while😱. Being a mother myself I can’t even begin to imagine having to go through birth pains 5 times not to talk of 38 times!! It is simply writing a suicide letter in my opinion. Expert says that having too many children increases a woman’s health risk

Mariam’s story is that she was given off in marriage at age 12 to a 40 year old man. A child abuse case, I mean I don’t understand the excuse that it Is because parents are ignorant that makes it easy to give away a child in marriage. This has to stop!

I believe it is only by sheer Providence that Mariam survived these births which were mostly probably delivered by a local midwife before she finally arrived at a hospital. Now the world knows her story. Haaaaa it is simply not a funny matter to me!!

By age 40 possibly the ware and tear of her body may soon start manifesting in form of one ailment or the other.

Medically the reason she has had multiple births is because she is hyper-ovulating. Meaning that she her ovaries releases multiple eggs monthly.
They say ignorance is costly and it is not an excuse. I can’t help but think about the what ifs of Maria’s case.
If only she and her husband had known better ; if only a family member or friend or neighbor had pointed her in the way of a permanent modern family planning method solution. Seriously somebody should have told her that her ovaries and even the uterus could be removed.

Anatomy – medicine. com

Somebody said the children didn’t look hungry or under nourished in the photo. Maybe because their father is a farmer? How big is his farm to be able to feed a family of 40 including making extra money to cloth and send them to school?

My what ifs returns… Seriously having too many children puts the mother, children and even the father at risk. High blood pressure from not having enough to care for them will set in.

Another angle to this is that government needs to better equip and strengthen primary health centers in villages and communities. It is my business; it is your business to save a mother and child.

Maternal deaths can be prevented through adequate health education and family planning.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

A Breathing Space for a Mother

Life is already tough for most women so there is need for a woman to really pay attention to her health and needs.

Often in market places and on the street I see a woman backing her baby with a heavy tray filled with wares she is hawking in the hot sun. The mother and baby suffer from the heat and are stressed out at the end of the day.

We met this woman carrying this big heavy Basin looking all worn out at the corner of a street in a community while on a house to house campaign on family planning with the Nigerian Reproductive Health Initiative team in Ibadan.  After chatting with her she was happy to quickly ask for a card that she would take to the family planning clinic to get a method done. Our brief enlightenment was like a rope of hope to pull her out of the troubled waters of having too many children.

I looked at her and wondered what her own unique struggles were? How many mouths she had to feed and how much she earned per day to care for her children. One obvious challenge was poverty.

Giving birth to too many children one cannot cater for will only continue the circle of poverty especially for many women.

Therefore it is our business to encourage that woman who cleans for us; that woman who sells petty things across the street; that woman who struggles with caring for her family. She needs to know how to stay healthy and stress free through the use of family planning. Then we will have less maids or cleaners with ten children that are denied the best things of life.

Save a mother, help a woman to have a richer and stress free life. Let’s help reduce the burdens we bare as women.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)