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Family Planning: Balance, Harmony, and Space

Twenty-nine-year-old Witness is a painter. The works that line the walls of her home in Magugu village, Tanzania, illustrate her grasp over the principles of good design: Balance. Harmony. Space.

But Witness puts these principles to work in much more than just her paintings-she weaves them into her life, creating the balance, harmony, and space she needs as a business woman, a pastor's wife, and a mother of four. And in place of a paint brush, she uses family planning.

Witness and her husband, Innocent, have four children. Their youngest child, 3-month-old Glory, was born at Magugu Health Center in Tanzania, joining her three siblings, who are 3, 7, and 12. After having their first child, the couple opted for contraceptive implants, allowing them to wait 5 years before having their second child.

Using implants again, they waited another 3 years and 2.5 years before having her third and fourth children, respectively.

Being able to plan their family has given the parents the opportunity to educate and care for their children.

"Because of family planning, my wife and all of our children are strong and healthy today and I can give them the attention and care that they need," Innocent said. "As a pastor, my life is very busy, having to take care of others in my community. Spacing helps us to plan our lives."

Today, the couple is at Magugu Health Center to have Witness's contraceptive implants inserted once again, while they wait for the right time to fulfill their dream of having five children. The facility is one of more than 4,000 health sites that EngenderHealth supported through its ACQUIRE Tanzania Project, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. EngenderHealth worked in partnership with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

Married for 13 years, the couple first met when Innocent approached Witness while she was selling jewelry in Babati District. Barely 3 months later, they had fallen in love and were married. Today, Innocent accompanies his wife to the clinic, a practice that EngenderHealth works to encourage in Tanzania.

Engaging men to support their wives' reproductive health is key to improving the well-being of women and their families and remains an important challenge in improving reproductive health of women. In partnership with the government, EngenderHealth encourages men like Innocent to visit the clinic with their wives by providing women with invitation letters for their partners, explaining the benefits of visiting the clinic.

"We like the services at Magugu," Innocent said. "When we come here, we know that we will get what we need. We won't get pushed to the next day."

The young pastor said he wishes health education could be available in other parts of the community in addition to the clinic, including at church or at the market.

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