“Mothers play an important role as the heart of the home, but this in no way lessens the equally important role fathers should play, as head of the home, in nurturing, training, and loving their children.” – Ezra Taft Benson –
While our programs focus on women and especially mothers, just as the quote says, PS Kenya recognizes the significant role fathers play in making our programs a success. We understand that support from the head of the household can go a long way in influencing positive behaviour change for the entire family.
As we join the world in celebrating Fathers’ Day, we selected a few stories depicting men who have broken ranks with other men to discuss issues that are regarded to relate to women only and tackled them head on, for the sake of their families. To these men and many more like them, we salute you!!
THE UNUSUAL SEEKER OF FAMILY PLANNING
As I supervise Tunza Mobilizers in lower Eastern, I often get reports on how men resist the uptake of family planning methods. The reasons for the resistance are varied. Some men say family planning will make their wives promiscuous. Others think their wives will be infertile while the rest swear that the hormonal family planning methods (implant, injection and pill) will be transferred into the man’s body consequently diminishing or killing his libido.
It was therefore very surprising when Lucy Wambui, a Tunza mobilizer in Kabati market Kitui County, told me about a man named Kulu Mutisya.
As Lucy was preparing to conduct a small group session at the market in September 2013, Kulu approached her. “Mwalimu (teacher), I have been told you normally teach the community about methods of family planning and
I have been looking for you to seek some answers,” said Kulu. Lucy braced for the worst because it was extremely rare for a man to seek information on family planning since it was known to be an issue for women.
“What do you want to know about family planning,” Lucy probed. “I want to get my wife a contraceptive,” he replied. Totally surprised by the response, Lucy then found a private place for the two to discuss the issue. What she heard next was astounding. “I have been married for 10 years and I have six children but I need to stop having children,” Kulu began his narrative.
During the 10 years of the marriage, the six children came at breakneck speed, barely two years apart from previous pregnancies. At the fourth child, the couple had tried to stem the tide with hormonal contraceptives, but his wife could not handle the side effects and discontinued the method. As soon as she discontinued the contraceptives, the two last children were born in quick succession.
Kulu out of desperation, had take In to abstinence as a method of contraception, as he didn’t want any more children, given his meagre earnings as a casual laborer. But his abstinence brought no peace in his home because his wife suspected him of having a ‘mpango wa kando’ (a secret lover). “I need a solution and I need it immediately,” Kulu told Lucy. “Kindu kiu kitawa coil kiilye ata?” (How does this thing called coil look like?) Kulu inquired. That is when Lucy explained the coil, an Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD): what it is, how it looks like, how it works and how it will help to solve his wife’s contraception needs. Kulu was convinced that the coil would solve his problems. It was now time to convince his wife.
Kulu invited Lucy to their homestead to have a session with the couple. After the counselling, Kulu’s wife agreed to get the IUCD and was later inserted the coil at the Tunza Clinic in Kabati market.
Seven months later, Kulu and his wife came to thank Lucy for helping them find a solution to their contraceptive needs. The couple is now enjoying their marriage with the only focus being bringing up their six children.
“Thank you for helping us save our marriage” Kulu’s wife said with a shy smile.
PS Kenya leverages the private sector potential to improve long term family planning service provision through Tunza by employing strategies to empower low income women access high quality family planning services. These services are supported by robust demand creation at the community aimed at breaking any barriers to uptake of services whilst driving foot traffic to the clinic for service providers.