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Lack of Family Planning --- my Experience

If you were thinking of adding ANOTHER child on top of the four, five or the six you already have, give me your ears to listen and eyes to see or imagine what I am about to tell you. These happen in every family without family planning, they are unavoidable unless you consider family planning NOW!

Living with a wild father, we never tasted a father’s love, every child would give a distance because he was known for beating. None of the children ever got his hug or gift, this role was to marry woman after woman wherever he would go for this army job. Much as he had over 60 women as our mother who got married to him at the age of 12 narrated, he never gave-up marrying and producing more children up-to the year 2000 when he was imprisoned and later died in the prison in 2006. We have over 10 step brothers and sisters not introduced home.

How can I exhaust my life experience in one post? Every experience has a lot to talk about. Growing in a family of 12, father and mother making 15 I have the experience, the experience as a child, the experience as a teenager, and the experience as a young woman. I know the challenges of the parents a mother faces, I know the challenges of the fathers too.

No breakfast , only lunch and dinner, food becomes a training ground for eating competition. Being the second last born of 8 plus 4 step brothers and sisters I know exactly what it means to sit in a circle and a banana-leay tray or a large plate of food is served in the center where ALL the family members young and old stretch their fingers therein to scoop a piece of Millet bread, sweet potatoes, cassava or posho/corn.

Young and old in the same competition, your satisfaction depends on your eating speed. The faster the scoop you, chew and swallow, the more satisfied you will be, in fact the majority could not chew, it was a bite-and-swallow business especially for millet bread popularly known as kwon or kalo. If you want to argue with me, pick a one year old child from a family such as mine and a four or even six years old in the city where you live, give the one year old twice as much as that of the six year old, five them five minutes and see who will have wiped the plate first. I am very ready to offer you one of my nieces for this competition!

Meat, fish or beans where bought on Christmas, Easter strictly. Green vegetables was cooked and served year round. Silver fish popularly known as Mukene or Omena once cooked, every child would be happy, very happy as though they had eaten meat or fish. This still happens in unplanned families today!

Clothings is not a necessity in unplanned family, many children walk naked, others put on rugs. I was very lucky to be the eighth born, I had many cloths to put on, at the age 6 as I can clearly recall, I would put on FAT cloths, 6 times fatter and 4 times taller than me, School uniforms where for the rich, shoes or sandles were a dream. I remember I was laughed at wherever I went dressed the way I was; at school, well, fetching firewood just like many children from poor families today are being laughed at (One of the many reasons for lack of confidence in rural/village children today).

Talk of bedding! Mattress was a vision, the parents would sleep in wooden built beds and on grass filled sack mattress in a hut. The children lay on mats made of banana fibers; boy or girl on the same line as though dead bodies lined for identification. Gomesi (Ugandan long made dresses a must among village women) was the sheet for covering at night, some children would sleep uncovered. Cow dung was the carpet or decoration of the house wall and the floor. During rainy season at night, our linking roof could not let us sleep because the roof had an inlet for water, the grass was never enough for the roof, we would pile in the safer corner until it would stop. This still happens in many unplanned families today!

Of course there was no television (not even a story about what it is), no radio, no nothing for entertainment. We made dolls from banana fibers, I remember there was a BIG screw driver that I used to tie on my back as my baby. Cooking soil as food was the game as children. This still happens today in unplanned families!
Labor force unforgotten, at the age of 8 I would go with the rest to fetch water from the well, 2kilometers from our home, looking for firewood from the forests, climbing trees to break dry branches so that the kitchen team could cook faster.

Everyone treated the same, everyone must work, young or old the same. This still happens in unplanned families today!
School fees becomes the greatest challenge. Youths (young women and men) especially girls are forced to get married at an early age due to lack of school fees.

How can I exhaust my endless story? I must END here, mark my last words, I have just said mark my last words many children have suffered and are suffering because of the effects of lack of family planning “produce children you can comfortably take care of even if it means ONE child!” You have the power to do so without the fear of your husband, go to your nearest hospital.

Beatrice – Uganda.

Comments

Anna Malinovskaya's picture

Dear Beatrice

Dear Beatrice,

Thank you for sharing this story with us! As I was reading it I could imagine what it's like to live in a big family in Uganda. I totally agree that the real problem is lack of family planning services which also leads to extreme poverty. I think we should continue to speak out on this issue so that NGOs will realize its scope and effect and do something.

Anna Malinovskaya

AchiengNas's picture

Family Planning

Anna,
Family Planning is being promoted here but at a low pace. Rural women suffer ALOT because their husbands do not allow the practice. It has led to domestic violence and even divorce. There is need for this promotion in the developing world!

Beatrice -- Uganda

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Rebecca Roberts's picture

Vivid storytelling

Wow ~ I am blown away by your courage in writing this, and by the strength you must have to have overcome your difficult childhood. So many studies prove that having fewer children leads to better nutrition, education and opportunites for planned children, especially for girls. And education is the key to promoting family planning. Have you seen the new video from The Girl Effect? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e8xgF0JtVg

What can we do to promote family planning by women and men (who often discourage it)?

Thank you for telling your story.

AchiengNas's picture

What to do

Rebecca,
I am sorry for a late response, I I watched the video, it is great!
I think the best thing to do is to use the very grassroots women (who have accessed the services) as the platform leaders, and promoters of family planning services. I am thinking of forming world pulse cells in the villages where women get together and discuss their issues. What do you think?

Cheers,
Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Rudzanimbilu's picture

i LOVED IT

Thank you Beatrice for sharing such powerful words. For a second there I thought I was in Uganda and I was roaming around the villages and wanting to find out more. Thank you so much Beatrice for finding the solutions and sharing it with others all over the world.

Rudzanimbilu Muthambi

AchiengNas's picture

You are welcome

Muthambi,
You are welcome!

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

warona's picture

oh.......... no!

Achieng

how are you gal , hope you are doing well over there.

You know i can say today as we look back, most of us have gone through that,some were even forced to leave school despite their excellence at school,parents would say okay, since now you can read and write its time for you to leave school as now you are a big girl, (already there is somebody they have found to marry you) despite all these today we are living in a changing society,such that now we can train our children,because there is too much despesation of information, i dont think we can embark on that to kill our generations.Our children must grow and go to school,finish school and work, find their life partners and enjoy their lives.Then we will have families of value.In polygamy its true there is always shortage, there is lack,irrigardless of whether the man is rich or something and there are so many problems that the family encounter, so Achieng be encouraged today,you are a strong woman now,AND KIP GOING STRONG.

love you lots gal

warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

AchiengNas's picture

Oh YES

Warona,
I do not regret my experiences, God wanted me to pass through so that I change others so do not have pity on me. It is a life record, from nobody to somebody.

Cheers.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

ArtByMia's picture

Beautiful

Hello Beatrice,

Thank you for sharing such an intimate and heartfelt story with us. Your voice is powerful and you are brave. I am having a Womens letter writing project in the United States and would love to add this writing to our project for women to hear the voices from other women across the world. Please let me know if this is ok with you. We will not publish or abuse your words and we ask your consent to share it as a learning tool for women outside of Uganda.

Once again thank you for being a brave warrior woman.

In peace, Mia

AchiengNas's picture

Go ahead Mia

Dear Mia,
Whatever I write in my posts are the true experience in my life that I have been dreaming of sharing with others to change lives. It is not about the competition, the Howard family who educated me are my witness, I have been telling them that I am looking for a platform to change lives, here it came!
Go ahead share whatever you need and do not hesitate to contact me for any more information you may need.

Thank you.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Karen Rozier's picture

Thanks for sharing

I was touched by your story. My mother is one of 15 children and a big believer in Planned Parenthood. Her father was a polygamist and that shame is something we rarely talk about. Her Dad (my Granddaddy Bob) was a fun guy when he was around, but with five wives in five states he was rarely around. It wasn't until his funeral that we discovered about three of his other wives; two of his wives were aware of each other and we knew that part of the family. Fortunately, my mother and her older sister were raised by her maternal grandparents so they were spared the life that their younger sister endured being raised with her eight brothers. My aunt from another grandmother lived a short tragic life, filled of alcohol and drug abuse, her children all being incarcerated at early ages, and a tragic death at age 62, young in my family. Her brothers lives have been filled of alcohol and drug abuse, incarceration for murder, homosexuality, wife and child abuse, dishonorable discharges from the military and a host of other social ills. Whatever abuse she suffered as a child, she took to her grave.

The four children that were raised far away from my grandfather have lived very uneventful productive lives, but they did so without the presence of a father in the home.

Even here in America, polygamy destroys women and children.

AchiengNas's picture

I thought it is only in my world

Karen,
I did not think family planning is an issue in the developed world! I am beginning to learn that it is all about character and not regions. I guess there are many other silent voices out there.

Great day.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

dg.vegas's picture

Beatrice: I was very touched

Beatrice: I was very touched by your story, specially moved by the screw driver as a baby. I share the feeling of feeling like in Uganda and somethings you said i found beautifull, a pretty picture in my head. I don't doubt it has been tough, but i'm sure that you were able to be happy and play with what little you could. In "developed" worlds, people including very young children get gaught up in always having more but can't really enjoy anything they have and can severely crash if loose all.

NO extreme is good, we must strive for balance

In lake'ch

AchiengNas's picture

I am striving for balance

Thanks dear,
To this level I count it a blessing. I thank God for all I went through. I strongly believe God channeled it that way. Soon or later life will be much better.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

vivian's picture

life is full of experience

Life is full of experience. Every woman have a story to tell. it is nice to hear your. your future will be better than your past.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

oanhluu's picture

I'm also like you

I have read your experience. It makes me memorize my country several years ago. My country's situation used to be like that. So, we had to spend some years on stransmitting and supporting family planning from village to city. And now, most of family in my country have only one or two children.

oanh

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