Why I Am A Family Planning Champion...
Every month, Florence found herself agonizing over the same question: Will I get my period?
The thought of becoming pregnant again filled her with anxiety about what it would mean for her health, her job, and her finances. What also kept her awake at night was the thought of dying during pregnancy or childbirth, a tragic reality for some 4,000 Ghanaian women every year. With an infant son already, Florence simply couldn’t afford to become pregnant again—at least until she was ready.
But one day, after discussing her worries with Juliana Atiso, Florence learned about family planning, a simple solution that had set Juliana free from the very same anxieties. Florence had heard of family planning but was always skeptical about its safety or effectiveness. But hearing firsthand from Juliana about how family planning changed her life, Florence decided to give it a try.
“Like Florence, I used to be very conscious about my menstrual cycle,” said Juliana, a 41-year-old mother of two from Ghana’s Eastern region. “But with family planning, I knew that she could be free from worry and can focus on other things, like taking care of her child and having a job.”
By profession, Juliana is a deft and experienced seamstress. She spends her days sewing intricate seams and transforming vibrant fabrics into beautiful dresses and scarves. But since 2011, Juliana has adapted her talents toward mending a different kind of fabric—that of women’s lives, held together by the infinite interwoven threads of their hopes and dreams for the future. Trained by EngenderHealth, Juliana is one of dozens of women in Ghana who volunteer as “family planning champions,” sharing their personal experiences with others.
“I feel compelled to encourage my friends and others to use family planning,” Juliana said, highlighting what motivated her to volunteer her time as a champion. “Family planning has been very good for me because it allowed me to work and earn an income before I had my second child. It’s what I am doing before we have a third child.” Since 1986, EngenderHealth has partnered with the government of Ghana and local communities to reach tens of thousands of women with contraceptives, so they can stay healthy and plan their futures. The current EngenderHealth-led project, Reducing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity (R3M), usesthe power of peer testimonials to increase awareness within communities about the farreaching benefits of family planning.
As a “champion” for the last three years, Juliana routinely dons her white T-shirt—with “I am a satisfied client” emblazoned across the back—to speak at public gatherings. She explains how her decision to use contraceptives was a life-changing one, not just for herself but for her family and their entire community.