SFH beefs up family planning awareness in Muhanga District

Fortunate Mukarunyange,49, a resident of Ngazo Cell in Muhanga District, was brought up at a time when having many children was associated with privilege and wealth.
Mukarunyange (R) with her family. She now relies on contraceptives provided by Society for Family Health. The New Times/ Ivan Ngoboka.
Mukarunyange (R) with her family. She now relies on contraceptives provided by Society for Family Health. The New Times/ Ivan Ngoboka.

Fortunate Mukarunyange,49, a resident of Ngazo Cell in Muhanga District, was brought up at a time when having many children was associated with privilege and wealth.

She was convinced that having  many children does not  only help expand the family lineage, but that it is also a sure way of fighting poverty, since a big workforce would be readily available for the family.

And so Mukarunyange grew up determined to have a minimum of eight children. And when marriage came, she started putting her dream to effect, and within just six years, she had already had four children.

This is when things started to go wrong.

“I noticed that I was  becoming  gradually physically weak because of  carrying regular pregnancies,” she says.

As if that was not bad enough, her  husband, the family bread winner and now almost in his 70’s, started falling ill so regularly that it was impossible for him to take care of the family.

Hunger and malnutrition started to hit the home since the provider was now crippled with disease.

Mukarunyange had no option but to take his place as a bread winner. She started doing odd jobs in people’s farms, where she worked from dawn to dusk.

“I would wake up very early in the morning, prepare food for the family, before I left to work and returned late in the evening terribly exhausted,” she says.

Mukarunyange says although she loved her children dearly and was determined to give them all the attention they deserved, it was never  possible because there was no time.

She has since realised that having a ‘farm of children’ was not feasible for her economic situation since she was not able to sufficiently support the existing ones.

This is when she remembered over hearing neighbours say something about how medical personnel provide drugs that “halt conception.”

The following day, Mukarunyange visited a nearby health centre and, after consultation with a medic, she was  introduced to a dosage of Confiance contraceptive pills. 

“I worked hard to raise these four children and it was terribly straining, but at least I was confident I wouldn’t have any more impromptu children,” she says.

Mukarunyange says she now relies on the contraceptives and that even her husbands supports the choice by ensuring she takes it regularly. Her experience has inspired her to become a family planning ambassador.

According to Bonaventure Rutagengwa, an SFH regular programme coordinator for Southern Province, the ambassadors help create awareness in the community about the various family planning methods through platforms such as mobile cinema services and sound systems.

He adds that in May, this year, Society fo Family Health equipped more than 50 community health workers in Muhanga District with family planning-related skills as a way of ensuring efficient family planning service delivery to residents.

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