Read the account of Dr. Isaiah Ndong, EngenderHealth's Vice President for Programs, on why access to family planning is crucial and on what motivates his work in this field.
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In the Bolivian city of El Alto, situated high in the Andes Mountains, Aruni, her husband, and their three children (ages 7, 5, and 2), live in one room in Aruni’s parents’ house. Indigenous Aymara people such as Aruni and her family traditionally have had limited access to education and economic opportunity. Family planning and health services provided at a local clinic are bringing new ideas to the traditionally male-dominated Aymara culture, helping both women and men understand the benefits of family planning. With the support of the ACQUIRE Project, which is managed by EngenderHealth, the community clinic is thriving and inspiring women like Aruni to lead.
My name is Aruni and I am 35 years old. I am a housewife with three young children, and my husband works temporary jobs sewing pants and jackets. I have been going to the clinic in El Alto for the past three years, even though the staff wasn’t always so good to people like me; I am an Aymara Indian. Recently, I went to the clinic because I could not afford to have any more children. During my visit, I learned about a variety of birth control methods, and the doctor explained the positives and the negatives. I was very surprised by my experience, because the providers were patient and easy to talk to.
I learned that the staff had been trained and educated by the ACQUIRE Project, and as a result, many doors have opened up in our community. The clinic’s staff now gives us better care and treats us better. For example, when a person can only speak the Aymara language, the staff finds a translator. And the range and supply of contraceptive methods have improved.
I felt it was important to tell others in my community about the clinic’s services, so I invited the clinic staff to speak to our local women’s group. In our group, we have more than 30 Aymara women of different ages, and we talk about sexuality, family planning, and children. Before, we women didn’t know about these topics and were very embarrassed to talk about them. Now, I know that their relationships are better and it has helped their lives.
Recently, our group watched a video about vasectomy. We thought that after the procedure the man would be disabled for at least one week. But we learned that it is a very simple operation and that the man would be normal in no time at all. Now some women are encouraging their husbands to have vasectomies as a family planning method.
My goal is to keep working with the clinic so I can continue to help my community. We have already seen changes. Without your help, we would be lost.
My grandmother gave birth to 12 children, and three of them died. My mother had six children, but she confessed that she would have preferred to have had three. I want something different for myself.