In the Kinyarwanda language the elderly greet the young saying, “Kagire abana” meaning, “we wish you to have children” since children are desired for everyone.
In fact it is such a big deal in Rwanda that when some newlywed couple calls you up pronouncing their latest delight - a newly born baby boy or girl you can’t help but think, “It’s not news, we saw it coming!” The banquets of flowers and gifts follow in a baby-naming ceremony and the child is officially welcomed into the whole clan setting.
Then within a year, another announcement comes your way, year after year until you start wondering what machine is making these babies behind those closed doors.
No wonder the average birthrate in Rwanda is 5.5 per woman!
According to Dr. Jean Nyirinkwaya a Gynaecologist at La Croix du Sud Hospital, the appropriate time to give birth is at least after two years of spacing.
“Giving birth is like crossing a road, the more times you cross the road, the higher the risk so, when a mother gives birth every other year she exposes her health to more dangers,” said Nyirinkwaya.
Speaking of the number of children that a couple can have, Dr. Nyirinkwaya agrees that having three children is just enough.
“Having three children is not a big or small number, it’s a good number of children because parents can be able to concentrate on raising these children the best way they can,” Nyirinkwaya added.
Parents who have three children are able to provide all that is necessary to raise their children comfortably.
Esperance Mukagatare who lives in Remera is a proud mother of six children whom she gave birth to within a period of nine years. She works in a local saloon in Remera and she says looking after all the six children is quite demanding.
“I wish I could turn back the clock. I would adopt several family planning methods because I cannot support all my children,” Mukagatare says adding, “they are in poor schools and I cannot afford to meet all their needs with my income from the saloon.”
Mukagatare said her husband who influenced her decision to have several children is unemployed and does odd jobs every now and then. Basically, he cannot afford to give her and her kids a better life.
“My husband believed that we should have as many children as we can because they are a gift from God,” Mukagatare said.
However, after several family planning campaigns and sensitization, Mukagatare said she will have no more children. Her husband agrees with her.
“I convinced my husband to start using condoms which he sometimes uses,” she said.
This, at any rate, is a first step for this couple to prevent another pregnancy.